Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Professor Mikyoung Kim of the Rhode Island School of Design explains the importance of imagination in children and how playground designers can foster imaginative play.
Mikyoung Kim is a professor of architecture and design at the Rhode Island School of Design. She holds a master's degree in landscape architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a bachelor's degree in sculpture and music from Oberlin College and Conservatory.
Prof. Mikyoung Kim - Designing Imaginative Playgrounds
Imagination is fantastic! It is pure creativity- it emerges in our mind-and is an infinite process of defining a unique interior world. As an artist and designer, I'm interested in how children imagine and create these worlds for themselves and how we as designers can help to shape those places for play to encourage this internal narrative. Children make believe - by forming mental images in their mind's reality. For me, Imagination is a verb - we as adults - we have the capacity to open doors with inquiry and we can be sure that kids will find their own pathways to define what those questions mean to them.
Whenever a new playground is designed, it's an opportunity to bring unique perspectives about place and play that connect to the character of the local culture and natural environment. This strategy taken on a larger scale would result in vastly different looking playgrounds across the country- and what a great thing that would be. Like the importance of the classroom to teaching -play spaces are an outdoor laboratory where open ended questions are fertile grounds for the expansion of the mind and self definition. These environments for art and nature become a forum for the imagination and teach children about their place in the larger ecosystem as well as help them to understand the cultural world that they will eventually shape- one that is evolving every hour, every day and every season.
Our education of children should include a good dose of these environments that renew and decay, challenge and delight, and allow for an evolving discovery and definition of the world we live in. As the artist, Paul Gauguin said "I shut my eyes in order to see" and so should we all -every day!