The lack of imagination

Over the past eight months we have been running a series of features on thoughts as to why there are differences between the go-getter nature of the baby boomers and the emerging talent of the new generation. We have written about the change in the approach within schools, how debt has changed their psychology and an increased fear failure.

One the most consistent arguments is that the young today possess a sense of entitlement that creates issues. In the Telegraph recently, Jeremy Vine offered another line of thought that may be worth considering. He noted that the 24/7 nature of TV shows and mobile phones mean children are “over-entertained” and lose their imagination because they are never bored.

Speaking at the Henley Literature Festival, he said that he had spoken to a TV producer developing a new Saturday morning show who had trouble finding children who were willing to sit through a whole show because “after literally two or three minutes the kids had had enough of it”.

He added: “A lot of the time in my childhood, there wasn’t much happening. My parents had one record player and one record, so it just kept playing.

“Then that creates a lot of space, and in the space, you’ve got to use your imagination. And maybe that’s why we all went into performance things, I don’t know.

“Boredom is good, boredom fires the imagination. If you over-schedule people and you tell them too much and they’ve got too many screens on, it pushes them back into themselves. We built a plane out of paper and tried to leave Cheam in it. It didn’t actually get off the ground to be honest.”

“Then, you know, my brother starts playing with these animated figures and wants to build a stage and my dad built a treehouse.

“This treehouse [became] a really big part of my life because I’ve got a photo of it and I thought what the treehouse means is that my dad spent time with me. That’s an amazing message to me, even as an adult now”

It is an interesting line of thought as it is strong imaginations that do lead to both creative thinking and vision. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, children would play in the streets and back gardens creating in their own minds a make-believe environment – whether football fields in streets, cowboys and Indians in the back garden. One had to create a vision and ability to see something beyond what existed.

Of course, it is nigh on impossible to change things back and there were parts from that time that were far from as good as today. There are challenges in how we can develop the thinking and skills of the young if we want them to be leaders. We need to invest and think differently to find new solutions to help develop talent. The same old approach is not going to be good enough. Are we ready for that challenge?

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