“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world.”
I’ve probably quoted this before. It’s one of my favourite quotes. Actually most of my favourite quotes come from the same source – Albert Einstein. His philosophy shapes the way I write, shapes the way I have brought up my children and once shaped the way I taught.
As a teacher, we’re not supposed to have favourites. But I have to admit that in my final year of teaching at one particular school, there was one little boy who found a special place in my heart. I’ll call him Charlie.
Charlie was 9 years old, a recent immigrant from overseas. His mother was a doctor, his father an accountant. He was a very bright little boy, a quick learner, with a wicked sense of humour and a cheeky smile. What made him different was his imagination. If I set a problem, he would solve it, then twist it around to make a new problem and solve that as well. His stories took me on a wild ride through imaginary places. His ‘news’ in a morning had the class rolling on the floor with laughter, and his artwork was always that little bit different. He was always top of the class, but he never acted as if it made him special as some smart kids do. Watching Charlie leave my classroom for the last time was very hard.
I looked Charlie up on the Internet a couple of years ago to see if I could find out what became of him. He had an unusual name, so I did find him. Now, you would expect, given his intelligence and his parents’ occupations that he would have gone on to University and become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant or such. Not Charlie. He had stayed true to himself and become a men’s fashion designer. He has his own fashion label and has won numerous awards. There was a photo of him with that same cheeky grin I remembered. I felt very proud of him. He’d gone with his imagination and let it fly.
I know. After what I wrote about my eldest’s choice of occupation a few blogs ago, I’m sounding two-faced aren’t I? I’ve done a lot of thinking since then. M and Charlie are a lot alike. I’ve just got to let him fly with his imagination too.