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  • Writer's pictureJiah Hwang

Review: "Nurturing Child Imagination in the Contemporary World:Perspectives From Different Nations"

Author’s Note

When I first went into high school, the lively conversations regarding books, TV shows, and more started to dim out as we were all faced with the reality of what stood ahead of us for the next four years: homework that mattered, tests that mattered, the SAT, extracurriculars, and a myriad more. Before I knew it, I didn't have time to read or even reminisce about reading anymore as all my time was poured into school and every idea block increased my frustration. What I didn't realize was that what would help me through these stressful times and idea blocks would be exactly what I was pushing away: my imagination. I tried to tap into the kindergarten girl inside of me whose only concern was proving the existence of fairies, but it was a useless cause. This isn't me saying we should let children blindly follow lost causes (or what seems so), but to foster it as long as possible, as the more you foster imagination, and therefore creativity, the likelier it'll be that they will grow into someone exceptional.


The European Union recognized the importance of fostering creativity in children, especially in 2009 when a special emphasis on the education system in developing creativity and innovative thinkers grew. Researchers defined imagination as one part of their theory of creativity, which seemed especially prominent during this time, so continuously nurturing those thoughts is of utmost importance. This is also because the growing imagination and, therefore, creativity can lead to scientists, engineers, and economists who can make great progress for our world. Public opinion studies on child imagination can provide data on how much the given environment values imagination. In contrast, the attitude of various social groups toward the development of a child's imagination determines the level of its support in a certain environment. The aim of this paper is to value “The development of child imagination, bearing in mind the importance of public opinion in defining the status of child imagination as an educational goal in individual nations/countries and among the members of different interests groups,” while covering:

  1. Can it be expected that different European nations/countries will express a universal value orientation with respect to preferring the development of child imagination over other family educational goals?

  2. Which characteristics of an individual are important for his/her attitude towards child imagination in Serbia?

Most of the data for this study comes from the World Values Survey (WVS)1 , a series of cross-cultural research conducted with a survey on representative national samples with interviews from 1981 to 2008, 87 countries and nearly 256.000 respondents participated in five waves. The first wave was conducted in 1981-1984, the second 1989-1993, the third from 1994-1999, the fourth 1999-2001, and lastly, 2005-2008. Serbia only participated in the last three waves. In the interviews, respondents were asked to choose up to five most important qualities a child should learn at home, and the list of choices contained “independence, hard work, feeling of responsibility, imagination, tolerance, thrift/saving money and things, determination, religious faith, unselfishness and obedience.” One study (Maksić & Pavlović, 2010) used data collected in the fifth wave with Andorra, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Moldavia, Holland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, and Ukraine as respondents. The majority voted imagination as last, especially lowest in Russia (14%), Italy (15%) and Bulgaria (17%), and the citizens of Norway (55%) and Sweden (57%) valued imagination the most. Overall, the average support for imagination was 22%. There was another study that analyzed certain macro-level characteristics in European nations such as socioeconomic development, whether the country had experienced communist rule after WW2, dominant religious denomination, and rate of acceptance for post-materialist values were calculated in a regression model and showed statistically significant 0-order corellations with the level of advocacy for child imagination while dominant religious denomination looked to be the only significant variable. The same study analyzed the correlation of advocacy for child imagination with a focus on the Serbian sample in the fifth wave of the World Values Survey with an inclusion of variables of sex, age, level of education, religion, marital status, number of children, and household income. The regression model for these variables were significant with age and household income being the variables most likely to prioritize child imagination. This is significant as Serbia is a country coming our of a communist era and has the need to fulfill materialistic needs, which can be helped with the better futures of children.

Furthermore, based on the work of Inglehart and Baker (2000), where they identified 2 dimensions of cross-cultural variation: traditional VS secular/rational values and survival VS. self-expression values, it was identified that many Western European countries have undergone great change in values from a preference for hard work to placing more value on child imagination. It was also shown that countries that have lower value on child imagination are often poor or weak. Florida proposed the “3T’s of economic development” for these countries, which were “talent, tolerance, and technology.”

Overall, the analysis of the data from the World Values Survey showed that the most successful European countries tend to rank child imagination at a higher value. Still, this claim has its limitations as “the questions of respondent’s motivation and comparability of similar findings from different social contexts and more still remain.” The price for supporting child imagination is lower than the cost that may come with not supporting it as several mechanisms are available for the former, such as gifted and talented programs, social media promotion, appeals to government officials, and more.


  1. The fact that the data collected from the survey was among the most recent sets at the time made the ideas presented in the paper that much more reliable.

  2. I believe that there could have been more expansion on why some countries had lower scores and higher scores pertaining to the rate of value they hold for a child’s imagination. Although it was provided for some countries, it was lacking for the majority.

  3. A unique aspect of this research paper was that it provided alternative solutions to fostering a child’s creativity when taking into account that some families may have financial difficulties to do so, and in detail as well.


Malsić, Slavic, and Zoran Pavlović. “NURTURING CHILD IMAGINATION IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD: PERSPECTIVES FROM DIFFERENT NATIONS.” Part 3: Education Policy, Reforms and School Leadership, 2013, pp. 216-222. Department of Education, Accessed 19 6 2023.

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