A conversation that I had with a 7 year old student about 15 years ago has stuck with me. I asked Quinton to, “Use your imagination!”. He replied, “What’s that?” I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t know what to say.
I was a young principal then. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what I know now. I didn’t think of imagination in terms of creating images in your head while you read. I know about all that now. What I DID know was that I was worried about Quinton’s future. I knew that if he couldn’t get inside his head and imagine a life outside of the one he lived he would never escape his impovershed, drug and crime ridden surroundings. He lived in a dark, curtains-drawn apartment. When I visited his home I learned that his mother had to keep his sisters’ Easter dresses in the dryer to avoid contact with the many raoches that moved about the apartment. How amazing to watch a mother make the best out of a horrible situation. I still see in my mind those little white, frilly dresses sitting in the dryer. What a contrast. The last thing I heard about Quinton was that he was arrested as a juvenile for being a “look out” during a drug deal. Could I have helped him change his life….to imagine?
I don’t look words up in the dictioary very often, but Webster says that to imagine means to “form mental concepts of what is not aactually present to the senses.” My wish for all kids -especially those like Quinton – is that we teach them how to imagine a good and happy life that actually comes true for them one day.