Monday, February 22, 2016

To Catch the Magic

I so loved April’s discussion, using listening to learn the art of language, rhythm and pacing. April reminds us “to catch the magic.”

The process of listening gives us access not only to the word but to the substance of the word.

Listening to stories is more than just about the craft, or the illustrations that embellish the craft. It’s about learning to engage the imagination. As Nigel Sivey (How Art Made the World, 2005), “ the art of humans consists in our singular capacity to use our imaginations. “

We know stories are the oldest invitations to the human experience. Humans have told stories for over 100,000 years. Every culture in the history of the world has created and told stories. While not every culture has codified laws or a written language, all of them have told stories.

Some researchers suggest that stories predate language (Kendall Haven's Story Proof, 2007).  That is to say, language was created after the story was imagined in order to give the story a voice. The power of the imagination is uniquely human. Birds sing, and some can even dance. But naturalists know that it is not their imaginations at work.

Rather, it’s their energetic rites of spring. Some gorillas have been taught sign language. But it was human imagination that created the language.

Albert Einstein used mathematics to develop a model for understanding the nature of physical science. But he used his imagination – using his famous thought experiments -- to make the leap to his breakthrough thinking about the space-time continuum and the nature of light.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” --Albert Einstein

Imagination is key to innovation. Not just in creating elaborate theories that explain gravitational waves. Imagination creates empathy, allowing one to connect emotionally to someone's experience. It helps find creative solutions to stubborn problems. It broadens our perspectives about our own limited reality. Imagination allows us to look beyond ourselves.

Listening, especially active listening in which one accesses and evaluates the sounds, taps directly into and engages the imagination. And like any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

As we celebrate World Read Aloud Day this week, choose your favorite read aloud and exercise your imagination!

Don’t forget to checkout Teaching Authors on Facebook!

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” -- W.B. Yeats

 Bobbi Miller

(ps. All photos provided by!)


Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for these ideas, Bobbi. You've got me thinking more about the connections between imagination and listening. I love the Yeats quote, and the Einstein quote is one of my all-time favorites.

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Marti. April was a hard act to follow!

Rebecca C said...

I need to work on my active listening. Thanks for the food for thought about imagination and listening. Now to put it to use...

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you for stopping by, Rebecca! I'm so pleased you found this helpful. Did you read April's discussion? She was truly inspirational!

Yvonne Ventresca said...

"Language was created after the story was imagined in order to give the story a voice." Lovely thought!

Christina Banach said...

What a fascinating post! said...

Great post as always. You write about the most fascinating subjects and I LOVE that little yellow bird!