By Leone Payson (MEd in IE Student, BC Teacher)
Becoming a student of Imaginative Education (IE) has changed my life, even down to my nighttime musings. You know the musings right? When your partner is asleep, snoring audibly, and you are not even thinking of sleep. The pillow is oddly warm, your legs are twitchy, you don’t know if you have to pee or if it can wait till morning, and there’s that quirky sound that makes you think there’s a leak in the bathtub and it’s caused the foundation around the tub to mold and decay and soon your bathtub will crash through the floor into the kitchen. That’s when I muse the best. And because of IE, all my musings tend to centre around just that. IE.
My latest musing that’s worthy of being shared (the Star Wars/Buffy universe mural I want to paint in the guest bedroom is a whole other blog post) is around a question I was asked in my IE class that I didn’t have a satisfactory answer for. Those always make the best musings- what you wished you had said after getting an evening to sit on it. Or getting irrationally angry at something someone said on the internet.
This question was asked on a Friday night down at the Surrey SFU campus. My peers and I were first asked to answer the question ‘who is more imaginative: children or adults?’. This is a common question in IE and after taking a course from the brilliant Dr. Natalia Gajdamaschko you would know the answer is ‘adults’. Maybe not a popular answer, but we argued saying that imagination is built upon what you know, what you have experienced, and how you have internalized knowledge, so, therefore, adults are more imaginative than children.
The question that stumped us was ‘then why are there adults who are dead inside?’. My answer was a flimsy response that we don’t know what goes on inside people. Just because someone is quiet or gives off the impression of…. deadness, doesn’t mean they aren’t imaginative. I knew as I was saying it that I was not happy with my answer.
Flash forward to that night. Lying in bed, wondering how much damage the bathtub would cause to the kitchen, I worked out a new answer.
Just because adults have the ability to be more imaginative than children, doesn’t mean they are, and that is where IE in classrooms is so vital. Cognitive tools give children the capacity they need to grow into imaginative adults. Children are more trusting of their imagination than adults are. They play with it more, they tangle with it and throw it around; this is a trait unique to children. IE provides the foundation for our students to learn how to grow up keeping this trust and hopefully realizing the potential that imagination holds for them. Giving children opportunities to explore extremes and limits, having them role-play with their learning, giving them strong metaphors for huge, exciting concepts, painting scenes in their minds with imagery, and inspiring them with heroic qualities–these activities are what nourish the imagination.
So the adult who acts as though nothing matters and this world is boring, maybe beneath the surface there is a world of bedazzlement and Pegasi, but maybe, they didn’t have the opportunities to explore their imagination as a child. They were not encouraged to take risks, get outside, get dirty with science, come up with binary opposites for socials, laugh over painfully awkward grammar jokes, find heroes in math, and they were never told stories that captivated their youthful imagination and bound them to their learning.
Ideally, that would have been my response that evening in class.
Now if you’d excuse me, it is late at night and I need to go to bed and wonder if that individual on the sky train hit me with their bag accidentally or if I somehow inadvertently offended them.