• Patrick McAndrew

All In Favor of Imagination?

I believe imagination is a trait that often gets overlooked. Sure, we may say that imagination is important for development and innovation, but we don’t really practice what we teach.

We live in a world of standardized tests, regimented 9-to-5 jobs, and conformity. While we may speak the virtues of imagination, our society tells us otherwise. Society doesn’t reward imagination like we should. We conform to the status-quo in order to stay at jobs we hate in order to feel comfortable and secure.

Many companies and organizations don’t value imagination like they say they do. If you value imagination, then you must be willing to hear out other ideas from members of your team. If you value imagination as the CEO, then you must be willing to hear the ideas of someone who is in an entry level position because they come from a new place. If you value imagination, you won’t foster a toxic work culture so that employees can feel free to get imaginative by taking risks and coming up with new ideas.

There is also little room for imagination in schools. There is a glimmer of imagination when we learn about something in a unique and creative way or learn about how important a certain subject may be for our future. Imagination gets wiped away as soon as the scantrons and number 2 pencils come out. What’s imaginative about a standardized test? How does that measure intelligence? It doesn’t.

We tend to value the rote memorization of facts and figures that will never help us in the long run. This memorization helps us on tests and exams, but once the exam is over, that information is long gone from our brains. You know what I wish I memorized in school? How to change the oil in my car or how to file taxes.

I think some very logical and analytical types shed some bad light on imagination. They believe it to be too loosey-goosey. They like charts and numbers and graphs. “How can we possibly quantify imagination in an organized fashioned to assess what children need in schools or employees need in the workplace?” But the whole reason why imagination is so valuable is because we can’t quantify it; it’s priceless.

The best ideas come from our imaginations: movies, books, plays, computers, gadgets, phones, airplanes, cars. Society rarely teaches us how to do these things. These inventions manifest themselves in the world because of imagination, not because we memorized the Pythagorean theorem. School, if done correctly, does stretch our minds to think, but we should be stretching our minds in a more imaginative way instead of through the rote memorization of facts we will never use.

The school system is training people to be cogs in a machine. We need to start emphasizing imagination so that students and employees no longer have to be cogs; they can be the creators of the machines. And by machine I mean a certain creative outlet or business. Not literal machines, although I guess I’m okay with this to a degree.

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