I would like to take you way back to 1989. A beautiful summer day. The setting – my back yard. I was 8 years old and I had a pile of friends over.
It was the bottom of the ninth and the game was tied. With two outs and ghost runners on first and third I stepped to the plate. I was no stranger to this situation. I had played it over and over in my head. “Wait for the right pitch,” I told myself, as I anxiously approached the plate (a patch in the yard where grass could no longer grow).
Would it be the fastball? Maybe the slider? A hanging curve? The pitch came – fastball, and I swung like a piñata full of tootsie rolls was sitting in front of me. Side note – – – – > My first choice would have been Big League Chew Gum, but nobody ever thought to put that in a piñata did they?
The ball sailed to deep left. As I rounded first (the corner of the sandbox) I saw the ball fly over the left field fence (the garden). The game was over. I was a hero. And you might think that winning the game was the defining moment for me. It wasn’t. The fact that I hit it with my imaginary girlfriend watching on from the rooftop of our house was even sweeter.
Sweet were the moments such as this during my childhood. We would play for hours, taking breaks only to hydrate ourselves from the garden hose. When we finished baseball, we switched to basketball, and then football, and yes, our imaginary girlfriends sat atop the roof as we showed them how good we were.
You see, we are all creatures of our imaginations. We make up games and have great ideas all the time. Although it saddens me that children now days don’t see a sandbox as a base or a garden hose as a thirst quencher, I’m excited to see what the imaginations of my own children have to offer. As an educator and father – the greatest gift I can give to children is the freedom to let them explore their own imaginations and creativity.
Even though generational thoughts are quite a bit different from when I was younger – we still need to embrace our children’s ideas and passions. Just because we built cities in the sandbox, or out of freshly wet snow, does not mean children today are deprived as they build cities via Minecraft. Things such as Minecraft exist because people were allowed to explore their own creativity. How many people could have been the best at something, or invent the next big thing – if we would have just supported their ideas? The possibilities in this world are endless and we need to allow our children the freedom to explore the world through their own minds.
Let’s give our children the gift of exploration. This is so much more important today than it ever has been. Our elementary-aged students will take jobs that have yet to be invented. Our society now thrives on innovation, invention, and imagination. To force children to conform to traditional measures of education would be a huge disservice to our students and our future. Every child has the ability to create the next best thing. Every child has gifts and we must allow these gifts to be unwrapped. I’m honored to say that Beulah Public School recognizes this. It starts with building relationships. A child that feels appreciated and respected is a child that will be more apt to bring a creative mind to the classroom. Just imagine the possibilities when all students are allowed to explore and create.
As for me; I may have been the hero that day in my backyard, but our children will be the heroes tomorrow. Also, (in case you were wondering) I eventually found a girl even better than I could have imagined (even though she would rather go shopping than watch me play baseball).