Sunday, February 9, 2014

Idealism or Realism

I am always amazed at news reports of children who have pioneered a fund collection or humanitarian project, often with remarkable results. It is humiliating to see children doing what I would probably fail at.

Idealism is a feature of youth; realism a growing understanding gained later in life. Idealism sees “what should be done,” while realism perceives “what can be done.” But realism often degenerates into “what can’t be done.”

The 1851 Festival of Britain in London held a competition for the design of the main building. Many architects presented designs, but the winning project was a huge steel and glass building (later known as the Crystal Palace) designed by a gardener familiar with greenhouses.

He wasn’t inhibited by the standard building techniques of his day, and his design was the forerunner of many later steel and glass buildings.

Children and youths see all things through young, fresh new eyes, including methods and ideas not anticipated or available to their elders. Systems and processes adopted by an older and traditional generation don’t restrict them; they are more able to “think outside the box.”

When children succeed at some project, their idealism has been channelled into workable solutions. Rather than recount why a child’s idea cannot be done, enable them to think through their own ideas on how problems can be overcome.

We may be amazed at what their idealism can accomplish.

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