Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Is Imaginative Education?

Just a few short weeks ago I learnt all about Imaginative Education thanks to Gillian Judson...Gillian teaches in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

As an educator I'm constantly looking for new and innovative ways to engage students, so as you can well 'imagine' *pun intended* I jumped at the chance to learn all about it from fellow educator Gillian.  Here's more on Imaginative Education from an article originally published on a really great resource and source of support for educators wanting to learn more.  

To get kids interested in a topic, you have to think like a kid. Your kid.

By Gillian Judson, PhD (@perfinker)

We all want our kids to do well at school. We also want our kids to be passionate and engaged in their learning. I’m sure there are times when you’d like to help your kids with their schoolwork, teach your kids something new, or tap into or ignite their passions.
Do you know how?
My work in education over the past few decades—and now my much more challenging work as a parent—has taught me a few things about how people learn and the circumstances under which our kids enjoy school.

It all comes down to this: people think about things they care about.

That’s right—our emotions direct all learning. So, we need to engage emotions to learn. To do that we need to tap into their imaginations. Imagination wakes up emotion every time. So whether you are teaching your kids something totally new, helping them with their homework, or hoping to reignite their passion for learning, use the following Tools of the Imagination to engage their emotions:

  1. Embed information within a story. This simply means, tell it like a reporter would—pique interest.
  2. Sing it. Clap it. Dance it.
  3. Draw mind pictures. Use words to describe an idea/concept in a way that creates a picture in the mind. (Be creative. What would it feel like to become this thing?)
  4. Move! Use the body to convey an idea (e.g. a gesture or a movement or facial expression).
  5. Identify patterns. Are there commonalities that stand out?
  6. Puzzle over mysteries in the topic.
  7. Notice what is super bizarre, weird, gross, extreme or exotic about a topic.
  8. Think about the topic as if it was a SUPERHERO—what would its superpower be?
  9. Seek uniqueness—what aspect of the topic evokes your sense of wonder? (in other words, how is this topic less ordinary and more extraordinary?)
  10. Organize information in different visual ways—charts, tables, webs, VENN diagrams, flowcharts, graphs etc.
  11. Find the human stories linked to topics—what person lives/breathes the topic now or did in the past?
  12. Change the context: Role play! What part of the topic can your kid become to help him or her remember or understand?
  13. Play. If this topic was a game of tag (or a board game or some other game) what would the rules be?
  14. Engage your kid’s inner rebel—what kinds of controversies are involved in this topic?
  15. Get involved. How could your child actually experience the topic/issue? How could he or she make a difference?

Here it is in a nutshell (or, the most important rule of all!)

To get kids interested in a topic, you have to think like a kid. Your kid.

Want to learn more?  That’s just a start. All of these tips are examples of an imagination-focused way of teaching called ImaginativeEducation. Each of these TIPS comes with a lot of suggestions and support—all FREE to explore at imaginED in our Tools of Imagination Series (

Dr. Gillian Judson

Dr. Gillian Judson is one of the Directors of the Imaginative Education Research Group and a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. Her published work and teaching show how we can routinely engage students’ imaginations (pre-K through graduate school) to ensure effective learning across the curriculum. She is particularly interested in sustainability and how an imaginative and ecologically sensitive approach to education can lead to a sophisticated ecological consciousness. Her recent books include Engaging Imagination in Ecological Education: Practical Strategies For Teaching (UBC Press, 2015) and Imagination and the Engaged Learner: Cognitive Tools for the Classroom (Teachers’ College Press, 2015).

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