Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

When JK Rowling delivered one of the most powerful speeches at Harvard University's spring commencement on the importance of imagination, she made headlines. Of course, she might have made headlines with almost any speech she gave, but in this she took another vital stand for the role that imagination plays in our lives.

In her speech, she focused on the role that imagination plays in imagining a better future for those who are powerless. "We do not need magic to transform our world," she said. "We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better."

So when we talk about getting kids and adults to use their powers of imagination, we are really talking about not only loosening our minds and the routine thinking we often employ but we are talking about how we can think outside the box to help others.

"Imagination gives one the ability to empathize with others," she said. "Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the found of all inventions and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."

With the fast paced onset of computer games, we desperately need to balance this with non-computerized games that stimulate the imagination. Buy games that encourage imaginative thinking. Support kids and co-workers when they have different ideas. Imagine what is possible when kids interact with others in person using their imaginations and cooperative group skills.

Read the whole address from JK Rowling