Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Children Learn - Fantasy

p. 258  "All my fantasies did for me was to keep alive a feeling that the world is in many ways a fascinating and beautiful place."

Gag me.
p. 259  "As important as fantasizing may be for children, we can't make them do it on demand, and we risk doing them a serious injury when we try.  I now understand more clearly why I have so long and so deeply disliked a scene that is very common in preschool and early elementary grades.  While an adult plays a piano or guitar, the children are invited, i.e. told, to pretend that they are trees or birds or snowflakes or wildflowers or whatever.  Children quickly learn that when someone says, "Be a snowflake," it is their cue to wave their arms and whirl and jump about the room.  Since they get few enough chances to move in school, they are glad to seize this one.  But we must not fool ourselves that they are really fantasizing.  They are only doing what they know the adults want them to do, pretending to imagine what the adults want them to imagine, and pretending all the while that they are enjoying it.  Whoever saw children, in their private lives and play, pretending to be snowflakes?  What they pretend to be is grown-ups, kings and queens, or truck drivers and doctors, or mommys and daddys.  If we try to make children fantasize, these fake fantasies, like the ready-made fantasies of TV, will in time drive out most of their true fantasies, the ones that come from their experience in the world and their need to make sense of it and become at home in it.


  1. It is funny that you highlighted this section too. And I love your caption! When she was the right age for this, my daughter hated and refused to do such activities. I worried (as moms do) that something was wrong. But instead it was very right!

    I've enjoyed reading your notes from this book.

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying them. Although I'm keeping this mainly for my own reference, it's nice to know someone else can benefit as well.

    And yes, I absolutely hate the contrived play that goes on so often nowadays. When kids let the adults do all the imagining, their imaginations get weak and flabby!