Which worlds are we talking about?
There is a question that Mrs Moore always asks her pupils’ parents, during interviews with the family: “What worlds does your daughter live in when she is not busy with school work?”.
It often happens that the mother or father she’s talking to reacts to that question with the suspicious look of someone who thinks “This woman is crazy! Which other worlds could my daughter Janet live in?”, and, generally, the parent is lost for words, unable to give a precise answer.
Yet Mrs. Moore knows that this is a fundamental question for understanding children, as important as academic performance and attention during lessons. Each child, whether they notice it or not, has a new world within them, because the tendency to create another reality is typical of growth, and no one – absolutely no one – is exempt from this.
Stories of secret dreams
“Anthony still loves building blocks… yes I know he’s a bit big, but… he likes them so much! He’s always there building forts and castles”, says the mother of a boy in Year 1, and you can see how sad she is to think that soon Anthony too, scared of the idea of still looking like a child, will say goodbye to his bricks and start building his adult story.
“What, Mrs. Moore? You don’t follow my Louise on TikTok? But you must! Her videos are absolutely hilarious! She made up the character of the Queen of Social Hearts. You know… she’s always loved Alice in Wonderland… only in her case the hearts are the emoticons that she gives her followers… Come on, give me your phone… follow her too…”
“The electric piano. Sandra spends all her free time with her hands on the keyboard. Although, to be honest, she’s not exactly Clara Schumann, eh… but, well, to cut a long story short… we’ve got her a teacher now, and she’s started having lessons…”
Then, there’s Leonard. His father is a little concerned. “Leonard’s locked in his room all the time. I’ve got no idea what he does in there. It’s off-limits. I mean… obviously, he’s got lots of stuff in his room to keep himself busy: a whole load of children’s books, his playstation, his stereo. And well… the wi-fi connection, of course!”. Leo is a smart boy, full of ingenuity; his father is sure that something interesting is going on in that room, but Leonard’s new world is only accessible to him, no one else. As you can imagine, … and his father doesn’t deny it… he’s getting more and more worried.
Mrs. Moore can’t help but agree. She’s also worried about her pupil. But she tries to think that Leonard, like Louise, Sandra, Anthony and all his other classmates, is creating a world that, in the first real big change in their lives, helps children not to feel lost.
Because imagining an alternative reality, a universe on their own scale, a world that resembles their deepest and perhaps least expressed feelings, is the way they stop themselves from having to grow up too quickly, so as not to find themselves disoriented in adult relationships in which the fantasy they were used to is no longer a common language.
ACTIVITY – What is your dream about the future? Tell it in a tweet to an imaginary teacher
Stories that nurture dreams and make them grow
Whether they are obsessive tiktokers aiming to become influencers in front of everyone’s eyes or hikikomores who are impossible to approach, whether they like to play a musical instrument, write a diary or express themselves in sport with an emphasis on physicality, children learn to become more self-aware thanks to an invented world that puts them at ease.
This is why Mrs. Moore likes to try and pass on her love of science fiction literature to them. Because science fiction has done just that: it has created worlds parallel to ours, with or without a link to planet Earth. And, by building alternative realities, it describes a time out of time, and is therefore always a valid way to reflect on the story of humanity:
– The hardships: the alienation of technological society, disease, war, lack of food. And that fear of the future which must always represent hope at all costs, but which then, in private, terrifies so many of us.
– Political criticism: alien dictatorial societies that threaten the Earth because they want to conquer it, or that have already conquered it and mistreat communities. It is often an allegorical tool criticize colonialism, the danger of lack of democracy, the lack of respect for minorities. And Mrs. Moore knows very well how every child, regardless of their socio-economic background, race or physical condition, tends to regard themselves as being in a minority.
– the search for a better world: differently structured societies where peaceful coexistence among everyone can finally be found. Generally, however, even these stories often highlight the danger that this is a “fake” world, because social conflict and the desire to prevail over others always remains a fundamental flaw in of our nature. Thus, reading about a hypothetical universe of tomorrow, today’s children find a hyperbolic representation of their quarrels with their companions, of disappointed hopes typical of that age, and perhaps suggestions on how to repair a broken dream.
So, there is a question that Mrs Moore always asks her pupils’ parents during interviews with the family: “What worlds does your child create when he is not busy with school work?”
And she knows that, even if at times they are stunned and lost for words, by necessity, there must be an answer to that question.
TO GO FURTHER
Write an article for the school newspaper in which you describe your ideal world, whether on Earth or on another planet, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you explain to your readers the fundamental aspects of the world you would like to see:
- how many inhabitants it has,
- what types they are,
- what kind of social organisation it would have,
- what natural environment it is in.
- Above all, what is the motto of your world, the idea that unites the inhabitants and makes life in your world enjoyable.