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Trevor Cairney’s summary of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child:

1. Begin by rearing children almost exclusively indoors – give in to the threats of the outdoors, don’t risk allowing them to have unbridled experiences out of our observable space. Lock them up in classes and organized instruction and avoid giving them opportunities to run free.

2. Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.

3. Don’t risk allowing children to explore machines or encounter those who know and use them—privilege safety above all things, cut craftsmen from the child’s world, despise practical and craft knowledge, forget about the challenge and fascination of maps, diagrams and the like.

4. Replace fairy tales with cliches and fads—water down stories to remove the evil and violent, look for tales that ‘flatten’ and homogenize, replace fundamental truths with cliches and ideological manifestos.

5. Denigrate or discard the heroic and patriotic—remove fathers who are heroes, men who are warriors, lose sight of the ‘piety’ of a place like the Welsh uplands and coal mines of Richard Llewellyn’s ‘How Green was My Valley.’ Ignore the dignity of simple people and their ways.

6. Cut down all heroes to size—don’t allow a sentimental admiration of a hero, dismiss courage, beat from our boys any hint of hero worship. Instead grow men ‘without chests’ who spend hours on violent video games but never rumble in the back yard.

7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex – replace the music and tenderness of love in the Odyssey, or the poetry of Stephen Foster for a lost love, with a reduction of love to the mechanics of sex, “reduce eros to the itch of lust or vanity.” Replace the first pangs of curiosity of a boy for a girl, or a girl for a boy, with a bombardment of images of what love isn’t.

8. Level all distinctions between man and woman—just as individual personalities are washed from our classrooms, so too, reduce all differences of gender, and convince children that boys and girls are just the same.

9. Distract the child with the shallow or unreal—fail to encourage the child to hear and sharpen the senses before creating, abolish solitude and silence, fill the child’s life with the ‘noise’ of television, video games and other forms of banality. Don’t just give decibels of noise but rather, more importantly, mental and spiritual interference. Separate the child from the relationship of family, neighbours and friends and place them in after school care, preschools etc.

10. Deny the transcendent—deny the idea of God, ignore the mystery of faith and religion, ensure that unlike the ancients in the caves of Lascaux there is little opportunity to contemplate and create a veritable cathedral born of their imaginings. Do everything possible to erase any opportunity for your child to search out the inscriptions of praise on each human heart.


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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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