Tolle Lege: Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

As of today there are ten reviews Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child on Amazon; seven are five star, after that there is a single four, three and one star review. I give you the single star review in its entirety.

I was very excited to read this book because I have 4 and 1 year old girls but unfortunately after spending an entire weekend trying to slog through it, I would not recommend this book to a common parent. The 5 star reviews I just read seem to be from other educators and other authors.

The way this author, who is obviously a very highly intelligent person, wrote the book in what I am calling a “high brow sarcasm” that was very difficult for me to read. The book could have been condensed down to a pamphlet stating the 10 points on what to do to save your child’s imagination, which could have been very helpful. But instead it was “if you want to ruin your child, make sure to not do this”, etc., etc. Then he would follow with story after story from the middle ages on down about how children of those ages were out and about exploring and learning. All of his examples and his writings were very difficult language to understand.

I don’t know what else to say. I was just very disappointed with the way it was written and I quit after half the book and won’t be picking it back up.

Ah, poor soul, he has no imagination. I imagine the reviewer didn’t like Lewis’ Screwtape Letters either, he would rather Lewis given a list of ten facts about demons and bid adieu to the devils correspondence. I for myself love satire, as did Elijah (I Kings 18:27), and I love this book.

For the first time in human history, most people are doing things that could never interest a child enough to make him want to tag along. That says less about the child than about us. If someone should say to us, “How would you like to spend most of your waking hours, five days a week, for the next four years, shut within four walls,” we should go mad, that is, if we had an imagination left.  It is only by repressing the imagination that many of us can stand our work.  Some years ago American feminists, in their own right no inconsiderable amazons against both children and the imagination, invented something called Take Your Daughter to Work Day. “See, Jill, this is the office where Mommy works. Here is where I sit for nine hours and talk to people I don’t love, about things that don’t genuinely interest me, so that I can make enough money to put you in day care.”

Imagine, then, never being able to look upon the sky.  That would drive us mad; and madness, unless it is of the sort that is predictable and spends money, would damage our economy. In Lady Windemere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde, Lord Darlington days, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” That is bad. We want our children to look at the gutter, or, at the least, the movie theater or arcade across the street. What we want is to raise human beings that are not burdened with the yearning to look upward… The sky suggests the vastness of creation and the smallness of man’s ambition. It startles us out of our dreams of vanity, it silences our pride, it stills the lust to get and spend. It is more dangerous for the human soul to fall into that for a human body to fall out of.

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