SelfDesign knows imaginative and creative character development starts in early childhood

According to developmental psychologists, the foundation of human imagination emerges in childhood and its lifelong trajectory reflects the nature of the support that nurtures it during this time.

Bolster a young child’s budding imagination at home or in school with encouragement and she will sense this and accept more risks in whatever activities and challenges she faces. Such encouragement will prime her to get up and try again when she faces setbacks that would otherwise discourage her. Multiply that a thousand or ten thousand times and a young adult will emerge with the confidence to try, stumble, and try again until she’s satisfied with the results produced.

On the other hand, if you habitually seed a young imagination with doubt or fear or conditional “yes, but” responses, the emergent character of that person will be hesitant and wary of really extending himself for fear of censure and loss of self-esteem.

The first example identifies the foundation of a life characterised by enduring resilience and an increasing ability to live an adventurous, creative life. Such a life will be characterised by stubbed toes, literal and metaphorical, but also by grand, imaginative visions.

Some such visions come to fruition in SelfDesign. As in the case of the 13-year old learner who, last year, successfully designed and tested a prototype for a robotic (prosthetic) hand. And another learner who created and uploaded more than 200 music compositions, including many on self-created instruments. This is the seedbed for innovation that so many social scientists and business leaders are now calling for, including the esteemed Conference Board of Canada.

The tenets of SelfDesign may also be seen in the ‘Manifesto for Children’ published by a leading creativity researcher, E. Paul Torrance, in 1983.


At the end of the day, or rainbow, we need to clearly see or identify the character of the young man or woman emerging from our education system. If we want that person to be resilient, self-determined and confidently imaginative then the education system they encounter throughout their schooling experience needs to prioritize that kind of character nurturance, something we do in SelfDesign.

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein

Written by Michael Maser, SelfDesign Learning Foundation and author of Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want

Learning Through Giving: Caleb's Story

calebfrenchWhen SelfDesign learner Caleb was 8 years old, he asked his mom how he could make a difference by helping others. They looked at several options and he felt very strongly about growing his hair to donate to make wigs for children who are in need due to medical conditions or treatment.  “I wasn’t sure he could make it several years and he proved me wrong. A year later, I was inspired by his efforts and decided to join him in growing my hair out also to support him. He’s now 11 years old and ready to make the chop!” says Caleb’s mom Rebecca.

In the three years he’s been growing his hair out, he has put up with people criticizing his longer hair and kids in the playground asking him if he is a “he” or a “she”.  He’s endured two rather hot Australian summers with little to no air conditioning and the pain of having his tangles brushed out each night.  He’s never complained, and didn’t let the comments of others affect him at all.

“This has been a learning experience for us in terms of accepting everyone for who they are, as well as doing something for a worthwhile cause.” – Rebecca

Caleb was happy to discover Angel Hair for Kids, based in Ontario, which makes and donates wigs to children of disadvantaged families who would normally not be able to afford one for their child. It takes $800- $1000 to make just one wig! So Caleb and his family have set a goal to raise enough money to make two wigs.

“Think of how you identify with your hair, how it gives you confidence, even how you perceive people without hair.  Then think of how you would feel to be a child without hair, whether from a medical condition that you’ll have for life, or from a medical treatment that is hopefully short lived.  Help us to give children the dignity and confidence of having their own wig.  Every little bit counts and donations will be issued a tax receipt through this page.” – Rebecca

“I hope many others will be inspired by my effort.” – Caleb

To support Caleb in his effort, click here.