This year I have been trying Genius Hour with my class and while they are coming up with some fun ideas to research they are not really looking outside the box. They want to discuss tangible things, the best hotels, why the leaves change colours, which hockey sticks are the best, wolves… the list goes on.
We do writing activities and they have the hardest time coming up with ideas, give them a picture to write about and they “don’t have ideas”, tell them to write about anything they want…”I don’t have any ideas”.
Where does this lack of ideas come from? Who knows for sure, we can blame video games and screen time, or over scheduling or even just the idea of “When would you do this in real life?” As a teacher I think that often, why do I ask my students to write a story in the first place? How is that a skill that we need to take into the world outside of school? One of my students actually said the other day, “None of this really matters for life after school” In the moment I said of course it does but then couldn’t really find the connection to story writing and life after school unless you want to be a writer. Then I read a few picture books and I think I get it.
We do creative writing and story writing to build our imagination, we build our imaginations so we can think outside the box and we think outside the box so we can solve problems. This might seem like a stretch but it is not. A strong imagination comes in handy when you hit a wall and don’t know what to do. With a strong imagination you say, “what about this…” versus “I don’t get it”.
Imaginations are important but you have to use them or you lose them. That is why kids are so creative because they have imaginary friends, they make up games, they live in a fantasy world even for 15 minutes at a time at recess. Slowly that is eroded by requiring everyone to be too serious.
We should try not to be so serious all the time. Picture Books can help with that 🙂