Imaginative Education


Education is about imagining the future. How do we create an education that cultivates this imagination? ~Angela Davis

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear political activist Dr. Angela Davis speak at Gettysburg College. The venue was packed with a largely diverse group of students, professors, and locals. Dr. Davis spoke eloquently about racism and related back to the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg as well as the semi-centennial March on Washington. She projected to the audience the past and current struggles that are inherent by being black in America. She also spoke of education and the need for change, the need for redesign, and the need to imagine.

In regards to education, Dr. Davis focused on this shift to allowing children to imagine their future and to cultivate their minds through their imagination. In education today, students are constantly bombarded with the concept that there is an answer to everything. They are no longer thinking abstractly. Abstract thinking, or imaginative thinking (as Dr. Davis referred to it as) is often neglected within schools, especially with the rise of high stakes testing.

Dr. Davis made valid points as to how we teach students and how we use these teaching methodologies to assess student’s success. We no longer evaluate children based on their in class and out of class attitude and achievement, we now have an academic predictor (see article) that correlates statistics on tests to that of the success of students. We often attribute the lack of education in public school with these statistics, however instead of looking at these statistics and the right answers students mark down on tests, we should be reinventing an educational system that promotes not only critical thinking, but allow students to imagine the world in which they live in and desire to live in. With a continually interconnected world, we have stressed the wrong educational values for students.

We place students in a world where there is a singular right answer. Unfortunately, without their imagination and critical thinking skills, we as parents, educators, and adults have failed students who are educated in this right answer educational system. We are no longer educating students, but have students fit a mold in which accepts little thought, desire, and imagination. When in education are students allowed to express, imagine, and think within the confines of our educational society? Where is curriculum that provides teachers the necessities to allow students to think outside of the right answer?

Education is meant to be imaginative. Children are always curious about the world around them; however we kill that desire by focusing on one answer rather than a multitude of imaginative and creative questions. As a nation, we have failed to adhere to the demands in which our world is adapting too. We can regain our footing in education if we allow students to imagine, think for themselves, and allow them to know that not everything has one answer.

Imagination in education will not only allow students to learn, they will become educated.

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2 thoughts on “Imaginative Education

  1. Absolutely right on. I have felt this way for many years. I taught in the classroom for forty years. They way we are educating is keeping our students in the box. We deal in facts and theories and imagination are usually discouraged. I wrote a blog on this called Pablo and if you get chance give it a read. It puts education in perspective as the killer of creativity which is the exact opposite of what it should do.

  2. I do teach my middle school English/History students to look critically at what they are reading in texts and online, and what people say. I show them how the same “fact” can be seen from a variety of views, which changes the truth of that fact. I model for them how it’s important to keep digging for alternative viewpoints and information, and to not accept the surface perspective. This is especially hard in a time when information is given in an instant and presumed true just because it’s there. Still, I do agree with your point that we do not encourage students to imagine the future. I do tell mine that some of what I teach I have to teach because of how they will be assessed on standardized tests, and that these tests, while limited, are important because they allow access to opportunities. I am hopeful that because our educational system is such a mess, that perhaps our society will become disgusted enough to make larger changes.

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