Imagination and Education
Imagination and Education
- Moira von WrightMoira von WrightÅbo Akademi University
The concept of imagination, with its potential to contribute to education, is attracting increasing interest as humanity faces major challenges such as migration and climate change. Imagination is expected to enlarge the mentality of human beings and help to find new solutions to global problems. However, educational thinkers have different understandings of what imagination and imaginative thought can actually contribute to.
Imagination is the mental ability to visualize what may lie beyond the immediate situation and to “see” things that are not present. It is a central element of meaning creation in education—in the relationship between mental pictures and reality, between humans and the outside world, and between the past and the future. Imagination is a way of seeing, a happening in the here and now. No single specific definition of imagination exists, and this term is used in a variety of ways. Because it is so evasive, the idea of imagination has been contested and questioned, so its meaning depends on the theory and context with which it is associated. Many educational theories simply neglect the concept of imagination, or limit its meaning to common fantasizing and playfulness, whereas others give imagination a central role in the processes of understanding and learning. The socially and politically emancipating dimension of imagination has been emphasized, as has its moral significance and relation to self-formation and education. Some thinkers argue that education should not be satisfied with developing students’ ability to think imaginatively, create a narrative and develop social imagination; rather, it needs to intentionally raise young people to “live imaginatively”—that is, to live a rich life with an open mind, being ready to think in new ways and change their habits when former ways of thinking prove untenable for moral and ethical reasons. Despite these differences of opinion, the value of imagination in education is undeniable. Yet questions remain: How does “bad fantasy” differ from “good imagination,” and what are the educational consequences of such a distinction? How can imagination be a common ground in education, and how can it be a liminal space or topos for the different perspectives of children and adults in that area? How can imagination be part of a greater social responsibility and a way of life?
- Education, Change, and Development
- Educational Purposes and Ideals
- Educational Theories and Philosophies