Blaze, what do you mean by “Is daydreaming terminally dated?”- I hear you ask. Daydreaming is a natural and often subconscious process for our brain and therefore is not something that can dwindle and become dated!
Perhaps, yes. However, I beg to differ.
The Oxford definition of daydreaming is:
“A series of pleasant thoughts that distracts one’s attention from the present.”
Of course people will ALWAYS daydream, however my fear lies with the generation of children currently in school and those who will follow. Let’s compare:
A child 10+ years ago who was bored would begin to daydream in order to amuse themselves.
What would be the difference with a child now? What do they always have by their side to distract their attention from the present?
Yes. A phone. Or an iPad, or a TV, or a games console. The list goes on.
Lo and behold, I’m writing another blog about technology. It is just such a massive part of modern life; I find that every time I write something, I still have more to say. I am not alone in thinking about the harmful factors of child dependence on tech as we can see by the most common google searches:
For those of you who don’t know, I am currently on placement in an International Baccalaureate (IB) School in Poland. A massive aspect of the IB is inquiry-based learning. This involves teacher provocation in order to spark student curiosity, discussion, debate and opinions on a range of subjects and concepts.
How does this relate to daydreaming? Well, this placement has opened my eyes to the benefits that inquiry has, not only on student agency, inquisition and independence, but also on creativity and imagination.
Technology unarguably is an amazing innovation. Technology is also unarguably detrimental to daydreaming. However, by incorporating inquiry into children’s daily lives in school, they begin to form the curiosity and inquisition that was once a natural process for people before one could google something as soon as they had a wonder or a query. Having information at our fingertips is very powerful, however, have you ever stopped to think that by diminishing this process of curiosity, that we could begin to lose the ability to form creative, independent thought processes and imaginative concepts?
Daydreaming has not only been proven to improve working memory and be a form of stress relief, but is also an outlet for creativity, with J.K. Rowling admitting that the entire plot of Harry Potter “fell into [her] head” through hours of daydreaming out the train window.
During my placement in Scotland last year, I discovered that the majority of children in my class struggled with creative writing and forming imaginative concepts independently. Upon discussion with my mentor teacher, I was informed that this had become a whole-school issue in recent years. This was not a problem effecting a handful of children, this was effecting almost every child in the school. This lead me to believe that perhaps these children’s brains being constantly stimulated with screens and electronic distractions, could prohibit freedom of thought and independent imagination through daydreaming. Although these connections have not yet been scientifically proven as far as I’m aware, I do think that we must be mindful of the potential links here.
Whereas with inquiry-based learning, although students are also often distracted by the technology they have at home, the classroom is an environment for them to explore their own ideas. They can form creative connections on their own through student-led inquiry, rather than passively receiving information from the class teacher. They can investigate as supposed to being “spoon fed” knowledge and information.
When I came to this realisation, I was already excited about incorporating inquiry into my future practice (whether that be in an IB school or not). However, it was what I saw on a school trip that truly inspired me and highlighted the IB’s success of making inquiry a natural process in order to promote life-long learning.
We were on a weekend hiking trip. This was an optional excursion for students, parents and teachers to explore and appreciate the Polish countryside together. This was not marketed as an educational trip. Students were told it was “just for fun”. To my amazement, my students were constantly inquiring throughout the day.
“Miss, look at that. I wonder what it is used for.”
“Miss, do you know what that animal is?”
“Miss, I could craft this into a hiking stick, couldn’t I?”
“Miss, do you hear that bird? What could it be?”
“I wonder why those leaves are orange when it is Springtime.”
Inquiry is not something confined to the classroom.
It really is a way of life for IB students.
I feel so lucky to have been able to witness first-hand, the benefits of the IB. Asking questions and being curious allows for creative processes to progress and imagination to thrive. I feel so passionate about this and how we as educators, can use inquiry and provocation as a way to keep creativity and imagination alive. Since the hike, I have been incorporating morning meditations into my days of full responsibility. I am beginning to understand the benefits and arguably the necessity of giving children the opportunity to just daydream and have a moment with their own thoughts, without distraction. Through the curiosity they form and the inquisition that leads their learning, they are not afraid to ask questions, make statements and give opinions. They know that if they do not fully understand a concept, they have not failed. Their learning journey is constant and therefore, they will always have further to go and have room to improve.
Going forward, I feel so encouraged by what I have seen in my school so far. Twenty unique and creative inquirers with a genuine enthusiasm to learn and expand their knowledge. Of course, they do have their moments. Of course, sometimes converting decimals to fractions does not seem like the most interesting thing in the world to them all- but that’s okay. The point is that they possess a growth mindset and are therefore well on their way to life-long learning.