“Esolen signals with this book his presence in the top rank of authors of cultural criticism.” —American Spectator
Extinguishing the minds (and souls) of our children in ten easy steps
Play dates, soccer practice, day care, political correctness, drudgery without facts, television, video games, constant supervision, endless distractions: these and other insidious trends in child rearing and education are now the hallmarks of childhood. As author Anthony Esolen demonstrates in this elegantly written, often wickedly funny book, almost everything we are doing to children now constricts their imaginations, usually to serve the ulterior motives of the constrictors.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child takes square aim at these accelerating trends, in a bitingly witty style reminiscent of C. S. Lewis, while offering parents—and children—hopeful alternatives. Esolen shows how imagination is snuffed out at practically every turn: in the rearing of children almost exclusively indoors; in the flattening of love to sex education, and sex education to prurience and hygiene; in the loss of traditional childhood games; in the refusal to allow children to organize themselves into teams; in the effacing of the glorious differences between the sexes; in the dismissal of the power of memory, which creates the worst of all possible worlds in school—drudgery without even the merit of imparting facts; in the strict separation of the child’s world from the adult’s; and in the denial of the transcendent, which places a low ceiling on the child’s developing spirit and mind.
But Esolen doesn’t stop at pointing out the problem; he offers clear solutions as well. With charming stories from his own boyhood and an assist from the master authors and thinkers of the Western tradition, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is a welcome respite from the overwhelming banality of contemporary culture. Interwoven throughout this indispensable guide to child rearing is a rich tapestry of the literature, music, art, and thought that once enriched the lives of American children.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child confronts contemporary trends in parenting and schooling by reclaiming lost traditions. This practical, insightful book is essential reading for any parent who cares about the paltry thing that childhood has become, and who wants to give a child something beyond the dull drone of today’s culture.
What They're Saying...
“Esolen signals with this book his presence in the top rank of authors of cultural criticism, following in the footsteps of Richard Weaver, Walker Percy, Russell Kirk, John Senior, Christopher Lasch, and Roger Scruton. . . . This book is unfailingly witty and also maddening, reminding the reader of what was our American culture and calling us to take action.”
— American Spectator
“Almost none of the sweeping trends of the past 30 years avoids Mr. Esolen’s sweeping gaze. . . . His skewering of contemporary culture with all of its political correctness and shallow moral gestures is devastating.”
— Washington Times
“Witty, provocative, and insightful. Parents will feel empowered and encouraged by Esolen’s uncommon sense.”
— Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio host
“The book is full of gems. . . . Esolen’s case for the human imagination is extraordinarily important.”
— Catholic Culture
“This book made me want to jump up (very high) and cheer, or run around (very far) and shout warnings. . . . All educators [should] take this uncommonly commonsensical book to heart. A worthy successor to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man.”
— Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College
“A lament for what we have lost and are losing: honor, humility, non-eroticized love, truth, and faith.”
— Conversations on Philanthropy
“Esolen dissects the sources of the problem with irony, biting wit, and a writing style reminiscent of C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. . . . This book is essential reading for parents, educators and anyone who is concerned to rescue children from the tedious and vacuous thing childhood has become.”
— Education Reporter
Interview with Anthony Esolen, author of
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
What is wrong with “rote memorization”?
Nothing at all, so long as what you are memorizing is immediately useful (multiplication tables), or beautiful (poetry, ballads, songs in general).
What is the place of technology in education?
That depends. Are we talking about the tool known as a book, that offers a whole world to the young reader, or are we talking about the jitters of the Internet, that offers a lot of sludge?
What does sex have to do with imagination?
Ask the great artists and love poets. Much indeed; but little of it has anything to do with “sex education”, which I believe is destructive.
What difference does it make whether the child is a girl or a boy?
If we have to ask that, then already we have missed the wonder that is girlhood and boyhood.
What do heroes have to do with the imagination?
They are its lifeblood; children need heroes; it is a miserable thing, to destroy in children their natural longing to look up to greatness.
What role does faith play in the development of the imagination?
It is essential, not just for understanding the great art of the west, but for that drive in human beings to look always for what is more, gratuitous, exuberant, and mysterious.
Why do schools set out to ruin the imagination?
They do so because imaginative children are by nature difficult to herd. Schools are built for a certain kind of efficiency and anonymity; they look like factories, and serve many of the same functions.