Some More Thoughts on ‘Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child’ by Anthony Esolen


Anthony Esolen suggests (in Screwtape style) that you Keep Children Away from Machines and Machinists if you want to destroy their imaginations.

I’ve been teaching my eight year old how to use the sewing machine. My general rule has been that as soon as they can reach the pedal and concentrate enough so they don’t sew their fingers together they can start learning but one day, years ago, I’d been sewing and left the room briefly and came back to find my two year old son kneeling on the chair in front of the sewing machine. He’d put a piece of material under the needle and was waiting there, mesmerised – fortunately, I’d automatically turned off the power before I’d left the room. The look he had on his little face as he sat waiting for something to happen was priceless. He had the same look a few years later when he walked in front of his dad while they pushed the lawn mower together, and again when he lit a fire and used an axe for first time, and later when he was finally entrusted with the chainsaw.
‘Or think of the mischief a good shovel, an axe or chainsaw, and a mattock can do. If you teach your kids how to use them, they might – use them………….That would show the dangerous virtue of initiative.’
‘We can stress to such an extraordinary degree the safeguarding of Johnny’s knee or pate, that we can leave his imagination wholly undeveloped.’


My husband’s uncle is a toolmaker by background and wherever he goes, he fixes things or invents stuff. He keeps me supplied with good sharp little scissors and other handy gadgets, and it was his influence, encouragement and projects that triggered my husband’s interest in pursuing a career in electrical engineering.


‘The quickest way to prevent children from developing their ingenuity is to keep them away from adults who know how to do things. We can do this the more readily by repeating to ourselves the truism that Safety Kills. Michelangelo did not sculpt the David in a padded cell. In fact, he had to hang around with the rough stone quarriers in Carrara to learn what marble was really like, from inside, so to speak, when men cut it out of the mountain. Had he been told to wear a helmet all his life, he would never have gone to Carrara in the first place.’


Reading this section of the book reminded me of an article another uncle sent us a couple of years ago To All the Kids Who Survived the 1940\’s, 50\’s, 60\’s and 70\’s!!


Linking this to Wednesday with Words  

2 thoughts on “Some More Thoughts on ‘Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child’ by Anthony Esolen

  1. Yes! I really do need to get this book, perhaps I will be able to add it to my list by Christmas. I just bought our ten year old son a fixed carving knife to learn the proper ways to whittle. And yes, he has given himself small cuts already, but I told him that's part of learning and to keep his knife sharp. Thanks for writing and giving us these examples from your own family. Excellent stuff.


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