The innocence of young children is something I find truly admirable. I wish it was a trait that didn’t deteriorate with age, but unfortunately, the more we experience, the more our innocence disappears.
Young children’s innocence fuels their imagination to a level which we tend to fail to understand as adults. I’ve recently been re-watching an old Korean TV show called Hello Baby, where a band look after a young child for a few months. In one scene, the child was playing with a long cylindrical shaped piece of food. When asked what it was, he replied with, ‘It’s a snake! It’s running away’. As adults, we’re in a place where we would see it for what it is and refuse our minds the opportunity to think outside the box.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to have been chosen to take part in an insight programme run by Teach First. It consisted of a week of teaching related training and a week placement at a school. One of the activities we were asked to complete during the training was an aid to help us become ‘sunny’ people and not ‘rainy’. Its aim was to help us learn not to shoot down ideas presented by children, regardless of how unlikely or ‘impossible’ they appear. These limits or words don’t exist in a growing child’s mind, and introducing these ideologies restricts their creativity and imagination. We were told to produce crazy, out of the box ideas for getting someone down from a tree. In that moment, it did not matter if ‘aliens haven’t been proven to exist’ or if ‘bananas are bad materials for parachutes’. All that mattered was the stories we could come up with in our heads, and to try and imagine what it is like for young children; to try and understand how it must feel to have these ideas, but then have someone rain on your parade.
The innocence of children helps to protect them from discrimination. They see each other as equals, but in a way which is awe inspiring. We, as adults, should be ashamed of stripping this away from our children as they grow up, by placing ridiculous ideas into their heads. They only follow that path based on what they see and what they experience through those around them. Just because we made a mistake, doesn’t mean they have to repeat it. If a child understands that, at the end of the day, we are all human beings and there should no discrimination between us, then what does that make us? It makes us bad role models but, more importantly, it makes us terrible human beings.
Looking back on my childhood photos and videos, there is so much I miss and cherish. Even just thinking back on what I was like growing up, I can remember so many things I would find difficult to perceive right now. For example, imaginary friends. As an introverted only child, I did have many imaginary friends who helped me get through childhood. Another example would be visualising the playground as a fortress, and that I was on a mission to find my way in. It did not matter how many times I visited that park. I would break into that fortress every time.
In reference to the image I’ve used for the post, I miss being able to pick up and blow the seeds off a dandelion or look up at the stars, and make myself a wish. I guess, these days, it something I would do keeps me going. It isn’t just a thing of hope, but being able to enjoy these small feats is a source of happiness. When we were younger, we could blow wishes on fallen eyelashes or play ‘she/he loves me, she/he loves me not’ and no one would blink an eye. But now, we get asked why we’re being silly and childish.
Well, maybe that’s what everyone needs a dose of right now. A little bit of our child-like innocence back for just a moment, so we can escape the stresses of the world, maybe discover ideas that we were barred from because of our restricted points of view, and even to improve ourselves as humans.
We should be fueling our children’s imagination, telling them that they can grow up to be an astronaut or the next biggest artist. That there is a impressive city beneath the ocean, and that pigs can fly. The next generation are growing up in a world where we’re struggling to keep up with the rate at which technology is improving and advancing. But these are kids who will grow up to have the next innovative idea, the next big breakthrough. They have ideas in their minds that we can’t even fathom; ideas that will only make them more curious, more creative and more intuitive. Let’s not strip them of these qualities, instead let’s nurture them.
Albert Einstein said:
Imagination is more important that knowledge
We can’t move forward in life just by knowing about the world around us. We need to know how to utilise the tools we’ve been given, and that requires imagination with a touch of innocence.