– Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 1971
“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation
What we’ll see will defy explanation
If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know to compare with Pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be”
As a child I always wished I could fly and become invisible. Obviously these skills were not an option when my DNA was being developed within my mothers womb…..but were they? Is Bec secretly a superhero? I hear you wondering. Am I about to out myself and reveal my secret identity? Sadly no, but I do hold the secret to unlock the powers within.
Throw a spoonful of imagination into the mix along with the essence of time and you’ve got yourself a pretty darn good recipe for being whoever and whatever you can dream of. A chance to be other characters and portray other qualities. Pure opportunity to just be, without judgment. Exploring expressions and emotions through dramatic imaginative play allows children to build upon themselves and their own sense of being. There really isn’t a safer place than within a child’s play to test out new limits and ideas. Imagination is an incredible thing, it empowers children with knowledge- in addition to those superpowers. While as an adult I still am unarmed, no super powers here. I still have my imagination, something I will never lose.
A favourite childhood story of mine was ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’ by Roald Dahl. In it, Willy Wonka appears completely crazy, eccentric and he is viewed as being completely mad. Perhaps indeed he was, but it was his creative eye and pure imagination that captured my interest. He was quirky and unphased by others opinions. I was in awe of his ability to just be whoever and whatever he wanted. He literally lived in a world filled with pure imagination. It was his reality. Sure, he is a fictional character but the concept can in fact be real. Natures playground offers space, open ended resources and freedom. While I know our world lacks chocolate rivers, sugar coated grass blades and Oompa Loompa’s, it is possible that perhaps for a child in a natural space, with a free imagination they can dream up these things and more. Educators and parents can support children to unleash their imagination, build resilience and empower them to make decisions about their identity. We just need to provide them with opportunity, time and space. They will handle the rest.
Fast forward into today’s society where children’s time to play is limited. Time that was once set for free play, is often replaced by over scheduled activities and the use of overstimulating devices. Children are often told how to feel, what to do and how to be. I often reflect as to whose best interest this is really in? We have become a world of convenience. Convenient food, convenient gadgets and convenient parenting. Lifestyles are developed and there is no space for children to imagine and create. Screen time and structured time is taking over, the over stimulation of these lifestyle choices decreases the need for imagination. What will our world become with children’s imagination continually diminished? Fortunately there are a lot of early childhood educators out there with clear, loud voices to spread the word. These educators, “want to change the world, there’s nothing to it!”
Imagination builds creations. Even that iPhone you’re scrolling on now, was once imagined, a visual of the mind. The world needs creative imaginative children who one day may become our industry creatives; film makers, designers, architects, script writers and artists or even just an office clerk with a wicked imagination. Perhaps adults who pursue these careers along with early childhood educators are the ones who know the secret within. We know the life long value of an imagination. We haven’t forgotten what it’s all about. We have unlocked the powers within. Let’s give the key to the next generation, it’s too amazing to keep to ourselves.
Hold your breath, count to three and come with me into the land of pure imagination.