Just so we’re on the same page: we all agree that a child’s creativity is one of the most important things to them, right?
Also, isn’t watching cartoons and fantasy shows “a waste of time”? A piece of “shocking ghastly junk” to exaggerate with Roald Dahl’s words for those precious little souls?
But what if it’s not? What if you could let the child learn, let the child’s imagination sparkle, let them think about important problems in the problem solvers’ way, and let them be innovators all while letting them watch a cartoon series?
We can actually do that.
Doraemon is a Japanese comic series turned into an animated TV series + it has over 40 films.
Unfortunately, I don’t think many reader’s from North America and a few other parts of the world would be aware of Doraemon, so I’ll describe what it essentially is about (a good refresher for those who know about it too):
The story revolves around a cat-like robot named Doraemon (the blue creature on the left in the picture above), who travels back in time from the 22nd century to help a boy named Nobita Nobi (the slow-witted 21st century mortal human on the right).
Since Doraemon is from the future, and he’s a robot, he has these fancy gadgets (one being the time machine, of course, that brought him back in the past to the 21st century). Nobita is a pre-teen kid who falls into trouble quite often at school for getting zeros on tests. And he also gets bullied by his friend Gian. He’s a little too foolish, neither good at school nor sport, and cries a lot whenever something bad happens (that always happens). So Doraemon uses his gadgets to help him!
Some gadgets include:
- The “Anywhere Door“; a pink-colored door that allows people to transport themselves anywhere according to the thoughts of the person who turns the knob.
- The “Time Kerchief“; a handkerchief which can turn an object new or old or a person young or old.
- The “Big Light“; a light that flashes a beam which temporarily increases the size of the target object to a certain extent for an unspecified amount of time.
- The “Take-Copter” or the “Bamboo-Copter”; a small piece of headgear with helicopter-like blades that spin which can allow its users to fly.
- The “Copying Toast” or the “Memory Bread”; a typical, single-loaf of plain bread that allows the user to memorize any contents ‘printed’ on it
So, what’s all this (a robot from the future that saves a present time dumb-witted school kid from trouble) to do with creativity?
A lot! So I’ve devised a game for it. It’s called “Being Doraemon’s Innovator”. This is how it works:
Each episode essentially has a conflict (where Nobita gets into trouble, goes to seek help from Doraemon, crying) and then the resolution (where Doraemon gives Nobita a gadget from the future to supposedly win over his troubles). Doraemon has a total of about 1,500 gadgets (!) which is a lot but the ways to overcome Nobita’s problems are limitless.
As the name of the game suggests, the player needs to be Doraemon’s innovator. Players may use their imaginative power to create a solution to Nobita’s problem in any way they like, but they can’t use some existing gadget which they know Doraemon already has; and obviously that also implies they cannot use the particular gadget Doraemon gives to Nobita to solve the problem at hand (that’s why I’d suggest doing this before Doraemon reveals the gadget in the episode but after understanding the conflict).
What’s “possible” and “impossible” do not matter. Anything can be done, of which the player has a general picture of, to solve the problem. The only restriction is the existing gadgets.
You can draw the gadget out on paper. Create a model of it using software that allows you to make shapes or 3D objects, use Photoshop, give a write-up on its description and on how it does what it does. If you like to design stuff in the physical world, you can craft it out! Use materials carefully and construct whatever you’ve got in mind.
Simply put; the two things you need to be clear on are (1) how you will solve the conflict, and (2) by what unique gadget you’ve created will it be solved.
(Also, to be clear, it would be cheating if you solve the conflict using a uniquely made-up gadget but by the same means of an existing Doraemon gadget.)
You see, as we started off this blog post with, we all care about the child’s creativity. But rarely does the majority do anything to let it flourish. We impose rules and other means of “discipline” (that really aren’t discipline) to supposedly make them better human beings. But all this on the cost of the child’s creativity. I really feel they will like playing this game. Not because they get to watch cartoon but because they get to create, they get to do something that may be unimaginable to you and me. Who cares if it’s not possible? “The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”, Peter Diamandis quoted. That’s seems so true!
In school, learning is guided by the motivation of getting good grades. That’s not education! That’s just doing stuff to get good grades. This is what should be each traditional school’s “guiding principle” (because it’s true): “Doing stuff to make the child get good grades”. Print that line everywhere at school!
The point of me devising this game is not to make your child watch Doraemon and play the game (although tell me how they like it). It’s to spread a message that maybe what you think is “shocking ghastly junk” to the child can be something that (all due to the side-effect of playing an interesting game) makes them more innovative and literally allows them to be on the creative level of the next gen. of thinkers that may create the cure to cancer.
The first mobile phone invented in 1973 was called the Motorola DynaTAC. It was created by Martin Cooper. It has been said that Martin Cooper was inspired by an episode of Star Trek where Captain James Kirk uses his “Communicator”, but Cooper later revealed that he actually got the inspiration from Dick Tracy’s wrist radio (an object from a fictional comic).
The first mobile phone was inspired by a comic. Whoa.
The point is, creativity is going to solve world’s problems. Not knowledge that we already have! And there’s not a lot of disagreement on “the world needs more innovators”. So let’s create an environment at home where creativity flourishes. Where children get to do fun, important stuff while watching cartoons.
Nevertheless, to emphasize again; this entire post is not about cartoons. It’s about imagination.
Anyway, just become Doraemon’s innovator or let your child play the game and see what you or they come up with.
p.s. I had serious nostalgia writing this post. Doraemon was my favorite TV show as a kid. Something I’d watch everyday. Disappointing I was not aware of this game as a child before.
I took a lot of help from Wikipedia’s page on Doraemon.