Friday, 6 May 2016

Let's do away with all the magic

in the world and concentrate on what is real. Let's forget all the stories. We don't need them. It's enough for children to have maths and science and computer programming. They really don't need anything else. 
That is how it is beginning to look to me. There was apparently a piece in a journal somewhere recently which explains why "the Borrowers" could not have existed. They do exist. They are "real". It infuriates me when adults try to suggest that "of course it's not real". Their idea of reality and mine are obviously very different. What's real is what is inside your head. I'm sorry. It has to be that way. If I can't believe in such things then life becomes flat and two dimensional. It becomes grey rather than colourful. 
People who tell me the Borrowers could not have existed because they are too small and that no tree was ever made into a wardrobe that led to Narnia or that no caterpillar was ever that hungry are simply trying to take all the magic out of the world. I hate explanations of what is "real" in all the wrong places.
There is a book by Margaret Storey simply titled "Pauline".  Pauline, an orphan, goes to live with a cousin and his family. He is perhaps kind enough but he is lacking in imagination. One night his youngest child is singing "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum..." He explains what she is singing about - and she stops singing. It's a powerful little paragraph. It doesn't say why she stops but you know.
And I worry that the world is becoming more and more like that. There seems to be less and less magic there. Children don't get AAMilne's "The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the dairymaid..." with all the delightful nonsense that goes with it. They get told ,"Cows don't talk and that couldn't have happened." Of course it could happen. It happens in your imagination.
How many imaginations are we stifling when we tell people what is "real" and "not real". Do people understand language at all? 
How can I think about something I can't see, touch, smell or hear unless I can engage with it in my imagination and make it "real"? Oh what are you doing when you tell a child something is not "real"?


jeanfromcornwall said...

My Granddaughter, aged 6, is just meeting the Borrowers and is entranced. A few weeks ago, she bought a lucky bag of offcuts at a local fabric store - snippets of material, lace and braid. She had the bits laid out on the table and was assessing them for how suitable they would be for Borrowers bearing in mind thickness, weight and so on. Now that is science. And imagination.
Oh my, there are some Gradgrinds about.

Jodiebodie said...

Hi Cat! It was nice to see you today and to find your blog. ;-) I love your writing already and I have barely looked around here long enough, but I will!

Your comment about "science and maths and computer programming being enough" resonated with my own frustration and lamentations about the seemingly increasing lack of respect and appreciation for the role of art in our society. In this world where jobs are scarce, I can see the trend in the subjects offered and taken up by secondary students. The choices are becoming more and more weighted towards the maths, accounting, economics and business while the arts are dismissed as something frivolous and a waste of time; yet as our society becomes increasingly computerised, and people become time-poor, overwhelmed with information overload and suffering from stress-related ailments, the need for the arts and creativity grows in importance and relevance as an antidote. I believe that we need to nurture creativity in all its forms and that includes IMAGINATION. Imagination and creative freedom are necessary to solve the problems of our modern world. So while Imagination may seem silly to some, it truly is a necessary element of life.

Sorry, I didn't mean to turn my comment into an imagination manifesto, but it's a topic dear to my heart also. I agree with you that children should be encouraged to dream, imagine, pretend and enrich their world with creative pursuits.

catdownunder said...

Oh Jean, I do hope they don't grind that imagination out of her in school! We need children like her so badly.
And Jodie I was so pleased to see you. Prue and Stephen and I all missed you last year and I had no idea where to find you on the 'net so we just endured anxiety about whether you were okay. And I do so agree - and so does the Senior Cat (you will, if you keep reading, discover he's my father and still teaching at 93.)