Unlock Your Child's Imagination and Open The Door to the World

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As a writing professor at the University of Southern California, I have spent literally thousands of hours in a classroom. At the end of last semester, classes went online. I watched my most ambitious, motivated students at the beginning of the year, become the least interested by the end of the semester. I was determined to come up with some alternative outside of the traditional education matrix. I spent my months in the bunker coming up with a solution.

I know the secret to motivate and stimulate even the most bored student. I know because I was that student. Unmotivated. Disinterested. Indifferent. I changed majors as frequently as I changed boyfriends. I graduated with less ambition than when I began. My mother was convinced I’d be her worst nightmare – a hairdresser. (It was before hairdressers were household names and earned ten times what teachers earn).

Ironically, I’ve spent a significant part of my adult life, educating and motivating students. I understand how to hold and keep their attention. You do, too. So does your child. In fact, the beauty of this “tool” is we all possess it. We just don’t know how to access it. Storytelling. Every one of us is a natural born storyteller.

Although my storytelling experience led me to becoming a writer, storytelling in any form is essential. Storytelling provides a lens through which to view the world. Its influence is such that today major universities now offer undergraduate degrees in storytelling.

When you learn to access your inner storyteller, it opens the door to your imagination. Suddenly, boundaries disappear. Everything is possible.

Stories inspire me. After reading “Just Kids,” National Book Award Winner, by Patti Smith, I decided to try painting. I’ve now been painting for eight years. Even my paintings are story inspired. (I still can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler).

It’s not about talent. It’s about exposure. It’s about exploration. If you only take one road, you will not see much. Nobody knows what they don’t know. Storytelling, particularly during these locked-in times, can open that door.

Like most things, it falls on parents to find new and unique ways to augment their child’s education, whether there’s a pandemic or not. Once upon a time parents could take the child to a museum or a concert. With those options and many other options off the table, it takes a lot of energy and imagination to come up with alternatives.

On the other hand, it opens up the possibility of parents and children discovering new interests they could share.

When students are self-motivated, online classes are fine. But for students who struggle with focus, depression, lack of direction, etc. virtual learning can be a disaster. I wouldn’t have lasted one day in their situation. I still have issues focusing, UNLESS it’s something I’m interested in.

Imagine it from your child’s point of view. Expectations, hope and dreams narrowed down to a badly produced 21st Hollywood Squares sans humor. Students have enough trouble paying attention when the professor is in the room. Now many are in their childhood bedroom, family on the other side of a closed door, experiencing life via their computer, and carrying on as though nothing has changed! If they’re lucky enough to have a good internet connection, they must hope all the other students do, as well. Then there’s whether their unsavvy teacher knows the way around the platform.

Is it any surprise so many students of this generation are depressed or hopeless?