Let Your Mind Set You Free

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.


14 thoughts on “Let Your Mind Set You Free

  1. Ugh. That image of Easter dresses being hidden in the dryer is a powerful one. It hurts my heart.
    Your post has me considering the power of our imaginations… I never thought about that before. I love this slice.

  2. I love this so much and it’s so amazingly true.. how to encourage young minds, who’ve witnessed and live through such a bleak and brutal reality.. to imagine. How to nurture that spark that allows them to see a future beyond the stifling boundaries of their reality. Ahhh.. This is written beautifully and I am with you… I think that’s one of the main reasons I became a teacher. I found such salvation in my imagination- in my pretend worlds- I was a weird kid! 🙂 But we NEED that creativity, ingenuity, innovative minds

    1. Thanks to all of you guys for your comments. They mean alot to me. I was actually a little nervous about including the Easter dresses part because it seemed so personal and I didn’t want anyone to “judge” this mom. All of your comments made me feel so much better 🙂

      1. I can understand your fear, but sometimes raw, deep, true responses invite the reader to empathize. That’s my favorite thing about reading: being able to know characters on such a deeper level, that you try to understand their reactions to situations and somehow it lends itself to a better understand of oneself.

  3. All I want to do is go back in time and hug this mom! I think it’s so important to remember and honor the lives that our children bring with them to school. Your visit and caring did just that. And imagination! I savor those moments when I see two students side by side, in their own little world creating amazing things right out their minds. We can learn so much from them.

  4. What a great idea to teach kids how to imagine a good and happy life! I always just focus on teaching them about what they can be when they grow up but when I teach about careers this year I will be sure to include this important detail about not only imagining what you want to be but also how to be happy and have a great life!

  5. Imagination is limitless. I think I’ve taken for granted my students imagination. A future entry in our notebooks…Imagine a change in your life. What would it be? What do you imagine in your future? Love it 🙂

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