Allow 'childish' imagination to take flight

I agree with Mr Tham Khai Meng that every person is creative by birth ("How creativity gets schooled out of us"; Tuesday).

Imagination leads to creativity. At childhood, we are all imaginative and creative. Once we step into the bizarre world of a formatted, knowledge-centric education system, inherent in our regimented society, imagination gets washed away by the "quest for knowledge".

We start following great heroes of history, admire their contribution to human civilisation, and aspire to "follow the leader" instead of taking the challenge to "be a leader" with creative zeal.

Creativity gets a natural death, and the worst happens when we are taught creativity in our schools.

Albert Einstein rightly said that imagination is more important than knowledge.

Our education system and society have ignored this essence, and our "childish" imaginative world has been bulldozed by the rat race to gather knowledge to survive in this competitive world.

We learn how to play safe, live in a balanced manner, love the status quo, and set aside creative thinking only for the extraordinary and the selected few.

No doubt, we have seen a trail of creative initiatives in the past hundred years - starting from the invention of penicillin and antibiotics, the mechanisation of agriculture and industries, and communication technology, right to the modern-day computer, Internet and social media - which keep us together in a collaborative, resourceful and interesting world.

If we can unleash the imagination and out-of-box mindsets, the pace of advancement of human civilisation will, no doubt, take a quantum jump.

So, let us encourage a more childish imaginative thrust and never laugh at it; let this be our pledge.

Atanu Roy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Allow 'childish' imagination to take flight'. Print Edition | Subscribe