By Balaji Ramanujam
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve reveled in the wonder of the “Terrific Threes” – that exciting stage in a child’s development when they’re propelled by a boundless energy to understand the world around them.
When every moment is a time for exploration.
When they bombard you incessantly with those tough-to-answer questions: “Why?” “How?” “What?”
When they have no fear of making mistakes, of stumbling, of falling, of getting their hands deep in dirt.
When learning is all about play, a sense of wonder, just pure unadulterated joy!
My journey with Imagin8ors has its origin in the “Terrific Threes” that our son Sid and I enjoyed together. I marveled at his fluid imagination, at his drive to create, and the zest with which he approached every new twist and turn. I googled, talked to experts and parents, and sought to learn what I could do to fuel this spark. To understand at a deeper level what he was really learning and to provide the right environment and experiences for him.
As I fell deeper into the rabbit hole, a few things became really clear:
1. Children are born creative geniuses and natural self-directed learners, but our education systems, in spite of their best intentions, end up stifling creative development. There is a punchy TED talk (“Do Schools Kill Creativity?”) by Sir Ken Robinson, a world renowned education reformer that brings idea to life with substance and wit. Our society values standardized test outcomes over deeper, more meaningful learning. The bulk of teaching emphasizes rote memorization. Children are caught up in an arms race of building more and more impressive resumes so they’ll make it through to top universities. Free, creative play time is systematically weeded out. There is a lot to change… and very little time to change it.
2. The irony is that imagination and creativity are potentially the attributes most critical to our childrens’ success in a rapidly-changing, technology amplified world. Content knowledge has become a commodity. What you can do with what you know already matters more than the knowledge per se. The increasing automation of jobs adds additional pressure to apply knowledge in original, novel ways.
3. Parents have a critical role to play in being custodians of their child’s creativity. Schools are not structured to take charge of developing each child’s creative potential. Parents, the first teachers at an age when the child is at their most creative, are uniquely placed to assume this responsibility. Research shows that regular, active engagement with children – including reading together, playing together, supporting their interests, encouraging them to question, etc. – helps with deeper learning and creative development.
My childhood dreams came back to me. I had always wanted to study English literature, to be a journalist and a writer, but I ended up studying computer science and business. I struggled to stay in touch with my creativity in spite of going to the best colleges and working for Fortune 100 companies. My conviction grew that I did not want this cycle to repeat with Sid, nor, if it could be helped, with children in general.
This was a compelling catalyst for me to take the plunge – together with Sampath Pudhukottai, a fellow parent of young children and a dear friend from college days – to begin the journey that has today become Imagin8ors.
Along the way, we’ve been fortunate to bring on board a team of innovators, educators, technologists, makers, artists who passionately believe in the cause of nurturing the inherent creativity in each child.
Our team is not alone. We’ve been inspired by countless parents like yourselves, who echo similar sentiments and are doing everything in your power to help children enjoy learning, stay creative, and find their passions.
We’re kicking off this blog to serve as a space for all of us to connect and share knowledge, ideas, anecdotes, and support. We hope that this space can foster a dialogue: one that deserves to be amplified and followed through to positively impact the most important resource the world has – our next generation – and to prepare them to be successful and happy in a world we cannot even fathom today.
And we hope to do this together with you, exactly as a “Terrific Three”-year-old would approach it: with optimism, zest, insatiable curiosity, mischief, fearlessness and joy!
Come! Let’s play! 🙂
Balaji is the Co-Founder of Imagin8ors and a parent of two boys, Sid (five and a half) and Ved (three months). Here he kicks off our blog sharing his personal journey with Imagin8ors, and talks about the need for parents to be active custodians of their child’s creative development.