=Imagination.=—These expressions may reveal a vivid imagination, but they are no less valuable as indices of the child’s nature on that account. It is the very refinement of cruelty to try to interdict or stifle the child’s imagination. But for the imagination of people in the past we should not have the rich treasures of mythology that so delight us all. Every child with imagination is constructing a mythology of his own, and from the gossamer threads of fancy is weaving a pattern of life that no parent or teacher should ever wish to forbid or destroy. Day by day, he sees visions and dreams dreams, and so builds for himself a world in which he finds delight and profit. In this world he is king, and only profane hands would dare attempt to dethrone him.
=The child’s experiences.=—His experiences, whether in the real world, or in this world of fancy, are his capital in the bank of life; and he has every right to invest this capital so as to achieve further increments of life. In this enterprise, the teacher is his counselor and guide, and, in order that she may exercise this function sympathetically and rationally, she must know the nature and extent of his capital. If he knows a bird, he may invest this knowledge so as to gain a knowledge of many birds, and so, in time, compass the entire realm of ornithology. If he knows a flower, from this known he may be so directed that he may become a master in the unknown field of botany. If he knows coal, this experience may be made the open sesame to the realms of geology. In short, all his experiences may be capitalized under the direction of a skillful teacher, and made to produce large dividends as an investment in life.
=Relation to school work.=—Thus the school becomes, for the child, a place of and for real life, and not a place detached from life. There he lives effectively, and joyously, because the teacher knows how to utilize his experiences and native dispositions for the enlargement of his life. He has no inclination to become a deserter or a tenant, for life is agreeable there, and the school is made his chief interest. His work is not doled out to him in the form of tasks, but is graciously presented as a privilege, and as such he esteems it. There he learns to live among people of differing tastes and interests without abdicating his own individuality. There he learns that life is work and that work is the very quintessence of life.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. How should dividends on school investments be estimated?
2. What are the inherent rights of childhood?
3. What use may be made of play in the education of children?
4. Explain why adults are often unwilling to cooeperate through lack of opportunity to play in childhood.
5. Illustrate from your own knowledge and experience how the exercise of native tendencies may be the means of education.