For those of you who are involved in education, you probably already know that your job is made more difficult when the student's memory and imagination are unprepared for the task of learning. Tony Esolen has written a book "Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child" that deals with the topic. One of my favorite commenters on the culture, Father C. John McCloskey, has reviewed the book here. As you would imagine from the title, Esolen is using a Screwtape-esque method of getting at what's going on in the world of the imagination.
Here's one of Fr. M's brief intro's to one of the ten themes Esolen brings out.
In the "Threat Outside the Door," Esolen's anti-imaginative persona observes that few parents grasp the danger of children playing outside.
The most enlightened educators grasp it and have taken steps to ensure that their own children are left to their own devices outdoors as little as possible. They have shortened summer vacation, parceling out free days here and there through the school year. As for the school day itself, both parents and educators want it to be as long as possible.
For myself, I know that I am unable to give my kids something that I had growing up: a neighborhood where you were free to play with anyone on the block, and you didn't need a parent to do a pre-approve on the event or the location or the rules or anything, you just went out and roamed the neighborhood playing. Sure, some kids were jerks on occasion, but you figured out how to deal with it and eventually got on with the game, or some other activity.