The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man. — Sir Thomas Browne
The oldest of man’s distinctions comes in the naming of things. Monkey’s do not name things; they scratch themselves. It is man’s prerogative to name; to cease doing so would be to give up his dominance over creation. It is a notable characteristic of a fallen world that has no confidence in our ability to define things. But evidence of this is seen often enough in innocent children who seem to intuitively know their rare ability to define their world. A child will tell you that a stick is a stick with more wonder and vigor than a modern man declaring he knows not whether the stick exists at all. The child sees reality and takes joy in his reality; the modern man sees nothing, and is depressed at the logical conclusion. He has devolved from man to monkey, for man alone can declare with vigor that he is picking up a stick.
Stepping out of my house this past week, I held on to the small hand attached to my small nephew as we descended the steps from the front door. The crisp air was complemented with a cool breeze that periodically picked up enough speed to make one cold. But children seem to have an odd ability to endure inclemate weather, and my old bones shivered and cowered at the slightest of breezes.
We reached the end of the driveway and purveyed the eastern and western coasts like two explorers surveying the countryside. I held my nephew’s hand a bit harder, and after the obligatory question from me and necessary response of “no cars!” from him, we crossed the dry sea of cement which made the suburban road.
A typical trip to the park from my parent’s home takes the average man approximately thirteen minutes. I have ambled that way dozens of times, often at night. But this early morning, it took us about thirteen minutes to reach the end of the block. My nephew would take a few steps, observe a crack, speak his mind, take a few more steps, observe a stick, and speak his mind again. Only a child will tell you with unending joy and vigor that he has found a stick. It is not a mere proclamation of fact; it is a human discovering his ability to name things. As my nephew and I continued our long trek to the park, he defined birds, and cars, and grass, and garages with more confidence than any living English major.
The naming process continued on the way to the park. My nephew discovered acorns; he then discovered the pleasure one gets from stepping on them. In futility, he attempted to smash every acorn in sight, and like two despairing giants we sought to rid the world of their existence fully aware that the multitude of acorns was too much for us to conquer that day. Thus, as we approached the park, we came to another crossing, and upon stopping heard a plane; a plane which my nephew properly identified as such. We also identified trash cans; I learned that the blue ones were possibly purple. We observed that some houses had two garages. Some driveways had trucks, some had cars, others even had what are “caboose cars.”
Like the holiest of tombs that was empty the third day, the playground was deserted for us. The day has taught me the depths of a two-year old’s excitement for life. It may be a fallacy that children need playgrounds, for my nephew was more concerned with everything but the playground. He picked up pebbles and made what he identified as “snow piles.” Eventually, the playground won his attention, and snow piles found there way on the bottom of the slides.
It is true that one must become a child to taste heaven; it is also true that a child is the nearest thing to heaven on earth. It is but all too true that the public education system in our country takes the wonder, joy, and imagination out of children and creates little drones. But that they create drones is no new mystery. The problem with the new education is not merely that the educators stifle creativity; the problem with the new education is that they demand creativity. And in demanding creativity, the one thing they will not get is creativity. If you place ten children in a room with legos, and demand they make something creative, you might get a building or a boat; if you place ten children in a room with legos and leave them alone, you may get a griffon or a god.
The whole farce of it all is that in destroying creativity by taking away boundaries, morality, and God, we have set up new boundaries which do nothing but destroy creativity. It used to be that children were taught morality, and within that morality, a young boy could have an adventure; he could save a princess from a dragon because the dragon is evil; he could save a village from a tyrant or a evil magician; he could save a friend from hell. But the new creative genius is not told to create a story in which there are moral boundaries; he is told he doesn’t need boundaries; he is he told he should think outside the box; he is told that the box does not exist. The only boundaries he is to have is to have no boundaries at all whether he likes it or not.
The mid-morning temperature slowly rose as we headed back from the park. My nephew, weary from the earlier quest, climbed atop my shoulders, and like a multi-headed monster, we terrorized the neighborhood — my nephew pointed and identifying everything which he had previously identified on the way to the park. I concurred with many of his claims, though I questioned other more outlandish. My old, failing eyes could not see the purple trashcans, and I am to this moment unsure what the child mean by “caboose car.”
The new education assumes that children need help to be creative. But the only help children need to be creative is for adults to get out of the way, for in the creative process, children will be create their own boundaries and story. All games made up by children have rules. Though many of these rules are made up as they go along, it does not take a genius to discover that breaking one of these rules is liable grounds for the next world war. So as I sat at the park and watched my nephew create snow piles with rocks, I observed how little he needed me to be creative. I watched as he climbed around the playground as if I was not around. He played with vigor and acted as if I was not there, as if the playground were the world he could conquer and claim. I thought to myself, that though I too roam around this world and play, thinking my Father is not around and there are no boundaries, that all the while, he’s watching from above.