IERG News March 2017

Hello Imaginative Education colleagues!

Let me start with an invitation. This IERG News update represents a sample of some the IE activity happening around the galaxy.  Please leave a comment below to share what you are doing with IE—or better yet, send me a direct message and we can include more detailed information on your imaginative work/research/practice in the next IERG News update.

Warmly, Gillian

Message From Dr. Mark Fettes

Dear IERG friends and colleagues,

Throughout an unusually cold winter, education has remained a hot topic here in the province of British Columbia, with a major curriculum reform being rolled out, preparations for hiring new teachers to work with special needs students in response to a Supreme Court decision, and surging interest in nature-based schooling, to name just three significant trends. Meanwhile the IERG has continued to develop new programs, including our forthcoming online Graduate Certificate in Imaginative Education, and to strengthen our international partnerships, including a recent seminar for Chilean and Mexican educators at SFU’s downtown campus. Our Learning in Depth Kits continue to sell steadily, and the audience for our blogs and online materials keeps growing.

How are these things connected? Imaginative Education is a powerful and proven approach to teaching the Big Ideas that form the centrepiece of BC’s education reform; it provides a practical framework for rethinking the curriculum in the service of more inclusive classrooms; and it offers a meaningful path to connecting nature-based learning with indoor learning experiences. Wherever you are, we hope you continue to explore possibilities like these in your teaching practice. You are not alone!

We hope you find interest and inspiration in the various items in this news update. Feedback and questions are welcome!

Dr. Mark Fettes (Director, Centre for Imaginative Education, Simon Fraser University)

Have PowerPoints: Will Travel

At the end of 2016, Kieran Egan gave presentations on IE in Bressanone and Reggio Emilia in northern Italy and in Winterthur, near Zurich (University of Zurich). These places had colleagues collaborating to set up a new Centre for Narrative in Science Education and Imagination in Education. (More details below.) The two main movers of the invitation, the new Centre, and the associated conference are Dr. Federico Corni and Dr. Hans Fuchs. Both were professors of physics who became increasingly interested in education, and are now very largely involved in science education. The invitation was also no doubt aided by the recent translation of The Educated Mind: How cognitive tools shape our understanding into Italian. It is hoped that the new Centre will expand its relationships with the IERG, maybe linking their new Centre with ours in some way. The head of the new Centre is Dr. Annamaria Contini.

Kieran Egan gave talks to various audiences, including university staff, school staff, many teachers, and graduate students. He also visited a number of schools in the Reggio Emilia and Modena areas, and is happy that there seems to be something of a race to be the first Italian school to introduce the Learning in Depth program.

In the next few months Kieran is returning to Europe, taking new IE PowerPoints to Amsterdam, to address teachers and to present at a conference on metaphor and narrative. He will then spend a week visiting universities and schools in Poland. He does plan to return home for a few days before heading south, to Chile, in July.

(In photograph: Dr. Gülden Uyanık Balat, Marmara University; Dr. Kieran Egan, IERG; Dr. Özge Ünsal, Marmara University; Dr. Federico Corni, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)

Imaginative Education Seminar Series: January 23-27, 2017 Vancouver, BC

The IERG was pleased to provide a week of seminars, workshops, and school visits in January to colleagues from Mexico and from the Universidad Finis Terrae in Chile. The week had a jam-packed program designed to deepen and enrich IE understanding—topics included the historical contexts of each Kind of Understanding, recapitulation, Learning in Depth, Ironic Understanding, assessment and more.  Check it out here:

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On the 4th day of the program we were graciously and warmly welcomed by three Surrey Schools—KB Woodward Elementary, Pacific Academy, and The Guildford Learning Center—to watch IE educators in action.

We were also pleased to offer an IE networking/social event at SFU Surrey in which our Chilean guests got to mix n’ mingle with IE alumni and current graduate students studying IE. We hope to host another week of workshops next January, continuing to expand and develop our collaborative relationships with UFT.



Learning In Depth: Links & Updates

LiD is going strong in local schools, across Canada, and beyond. Indeed, Kieran Egan’s Learning in Depth book has now been translated into Spanish and will be available soon!

I was pleased to learn about a thriving LiD program at Great Torrington Bluecoat Primary School, in North Devon, UK late last year. In this post, Deputy Headteacher Ian Thomas describes their program, discusses assessment tools, and offers tips for expanding. Do you have a “buddy” school for your LiD program? Find out about theirs!

At Chute Lake Elementary School in Kelowna, BC. 380 (of 492) students are participating in the LiD program. LiD started last year with the K and 1 students and then this year the Grade 2’s and 3’s started their projects. Next year the school plans to implement LiD with the Grade 4, 5, and 6 students. Vice Principal Lindsey Hamilton reports that LiD is quickly becoming most students favourite time of the week and most participating teachers are enjoying the truly collaborative environment this program is creating for both staff and students. Stay tuned for a more detailed account of the LiD program at Chute Lake elementary–blog post coming soon! Learn more about Chute Lake Elementary and their LiD program here.

LiD teachers are sharing their tips and stories here. Contact me if you would like to post about your LiD work!

IE Graduate Programs


We are currently accepting applications for our MEd IE program starting in September 2017 (deadline for applications is March 15, 2017) and also the IE Graduate Certificate program. This certificate program is 100% online—so please join us from around the world to learn about IE. It is full of animations, visuals, story—yes, it implements into on-line programming a cognitive tools approach to teaching. (*Local educators–Did you know that you can do the 1-year online Graduate Certificate in IE and then ladder into/join the MEd program in IE at Surrey campus to finish with a Masters?

Action Research

Our current IE MEd students are nearing the end of their program. They are now actively involved in Action Research on various IE-related topics. Here’s a sneak peak:

  • How can the use of cognitive tools related to different kinds of understandings help engage ESL learners from diverse cultural backgrounds? (Fatemah Jalali-Tehrani)
  • How can the tools of orality help engage emergent writers? (Amanda Vangarderen)
  • How can LiD students be engaged and encouraged to go deeper with their learning? (Clayton Stephens)
  • How does storytelling integrate aboriginal perspectives and knowledge? (Rachel Goshulak)
  • Does actively involving students in the process of assessing their own learning allow them to engage emotionally with the process of assessment? (Ashleigh Albach)
  • How does using cognitive tools and providing ‘unstructured’ time for my students to play with language further their voice as writers? (Leone Payson)
  • How do different forms of play impact student learning? (Kush Brown)
  • How can the cognitive tools of Romantic and Philosophic Understandings help my students to overcome their anxiety and be able to have a positive learning experience? (Mark Maretic)
  • What are some effective ways to immerse Math students in problem solving and increase their grit in working through challenging questions? (Carley Brockway)
  • How can using cognitive tools such as the story-form, sense of wonder, metaphor, and sense of mystery facilitate literacy development in a student who presents with comorbid learning disabilities? (Carol Skolsky)
  • Can the use of cognitive tools of Mythic and Romantic understandings help build math fact fluency in struggling learners? (Carla Mountali)
  • How do secondary students employ cognitive tools to create literary devices such as metaphor, situational irony, and imagery to make meaning of language? (Wendy Johnston)

My goal is to make more information on these interesting AR projects (and past projects) available soon on imaginED so please stay tuned.

Stay Connected With IE Educators

I took the opportunity at this IE networking/social event—70+ IE educators in one room is magic—to discuss ways in which we can support each other, develop working relationships, and stay connected. Two initiatives have developed as a result:

Initiative One: Facebook Forum. We now have an online space for IE educators to connect. (Search Imaginative Education Forum in Facebook or click here). The forum is uniquely for educators who practice Imaginative Education. Anyone who teaches using “cognitive tools” and “kinds of understanding”—or has been introduced to the idea and seeks to learn more—is encouraged to join the forum. I hope you join the group and use this space to get ideas, support each other, and stay connected. Give it a try—post a question or share an idea and see who contacts you from around the galaxy. Note: It is a “closed group”—but anyone who talks cognitive tool and IE language is welcome. That is YOU colleagues! Please request to join today and get connected with IE educators worldwide.

Initiative Two: Directory of IE Educators (PreK-Post-Secondary). The feedback from the networking event indicated that it would be helpful to build a directory of IE educators that is organized according to age/grade/subject area. I am in the process of creating this directory. Note: This directory will NOT be contained in this FB forum, but will only be available in a PASSWORD PROTECTED space on this imaginED blog (coming soon). So, only people ON the directory will have access TO the directory. (My vision is that eventually, this password protected space will also contain subject/grade specific spaces (google docs) that we can use to share/build IDEAS and inspiration around IE. We are all IE learners!

What does “being on the directory entail”? If you are on the directory you may be asked questions or be contacted by other IE educators. You may be encouraged to share ideas or things you have done with IE (sharing is within the private blog space—not public). That’s all there is to it. All you need to do now is to send me a direct message with

  1. your full name,
  2. the email address you can be contacted at
  3. the grade level(s) or subject areas with which you practice IE.


IE International: Chile, Mexico, Italy


Upon returning from their Vancouver workshop series, Francisca Espinosa, Sofia Howard, and Sole Acuna began a workshop series with the staff of Saint Margaret School in Viña del Mar, Chile. The first session was about Imaginative Education and LiD. They intend to implement LiD at that school this year. This workshop was the first of three planned for Saint Margaret teachers. The seminar series will focus on Creativity, Innovation, Imaginative Education and Assessment. (There are currently three schools in Santiago that have implemented LiD: Villa María, Lincoln, and Tricahue—there is a lot of interest!).

In other news, Universidad Finis Terrae (UFT) is expanding its Masters Degree in Creativity & Innovation with programs beginning in Rancagua and La Serena, Chile. The IERG is working in partnership with UFT to make Imaginative Education a central part of this degree program. I (Gillian Judson) introduced Imaginative Education to the Masters students during a week of teaching in July 2016, Dr. Natalia Gajdamaschko spent a week teaching about Vygotky in November 2016. Kieran Egan is scheduled to offer a final week of workshops on IE in Santiago this July.


On February 25th, 2017 Carolina Lopez (M.Ed in Imaginative Education) and her team at Educacion Imaginativa Mexico started their first IE workshop series in Mexico City with a group of educators from different institutions. The program is directed by Carolina López and coordinated by Adriana Grimaldo (co-founder of Educación Imaginativa de Mexico).

Last October, the same program began in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, with a diverse group of educators. This program is designed to allow students to experience IE in depth through theoretical analysis and on-going practice. In eight  sessions of eight hours each, participants will be supported in transforming their teaching practice through the perspective and methodology of Imaginative Education. A third group is scheduled to start the program in April, 2017.


Founding of the Center for Metaphor and Narrative in Science at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) in Northern Italy

By Annamarie Contain, Federico Corni, Hans Fuchs

On December 2-3, 2016, the Fourth Conference on “Innovation in Science Education in Primary School and Kindergarten: At the Crossroads of Science and Humanities” was held at the Department of Education and Humanities at Unimore in Reggio Emilia. The conference was devoted to the theme of metaphor and narrative in science education. The conference gave us the opportunity to celebrate the founding of the Center for Metaphor and Narrative in Science, which is hosted by the Department of Education and Humanities of Unimore. Its mission is to promote multi and inter-disciplinary research relating to the role of metaphor and narrative in science communication, science education, and mathematics. At the center, we wish to explore metaphor and storytelling as fundamental devices of imaginative rationality, especially as they are used in science education.

In collaboration with Hans U. Fuchs and Elisabeth Dumont (Zürich University of Applied Sciences at Winterthur, Switzerland), the center, MANIS, was conceived and founded by Annamaria Contini (who is its current director) and Federico Corni (who chairs the Scientific Committee). It brings together international experts from a wide range of fields: physics, geology, biology, and mathematics; aesthetics, pedagogy, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and literature. Among the members of the Scientific Committee are Kieran Egan (Simon Fraser University, Canada); Zoltan Kövecses (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), and Tamer Amin (American University, Beirut), and Jörg Zabel (University of Leipzig, Germany).

We have been busy since the founding of MANIS. The center’s website will be available soon at We hope it will serve as a forum for communication and dissemination as well as a focus and locus of (virtual) international cooperation. We are planning seminars and workshops on some key issues such as the role of metaphor in scientific explanation and discovery, metaphorical competence of children, use of digital storytelling in science education, etc. Finally, we have started developing some of the international projects that were discussed last December during the Conference.

For more information contact: Annamaria Contini ([email protected])

imaginED: A Blog For Imaginative Educators

Well, in reading this IERG news update you have arrived at our ever-expanding and active IE blog! If you haven’t already, please subscribe for a weekly email containing the newest resources/posts. (For those of you who don’t know, imaginED celebrated its first birthday in January—enjoy this post that summarizes the first year of the blog.)

imaginEd is increasingly becoming a space where you, IE educators, are sharing your work. PreK through post-secondary. Theory and practice. Research and resources. Blogging is a nice way to share and connect with other educators. Want to write for imaginED? Click here or just contact me. Be part of the imaginED writing team! Always welcoming new posts on all imagination-focused educational topics.

Feeling chatty? #imaginEDchat

Imaginative educator Olwen Cowen and I started a forum last September for live chats on imagination. Anyone can participate—all you need is a wifi connection and a Twitter account! We have hosted #imaginEDchat 7 times so far with educators world wide. Topics have included imagination (in general), the power of story, vivid mental imagery, empathy, play, and, most recently, imagination’s role in assessment. Join us! The next chat is on Wednesday April 12 at 7 (PST). Follow me (@perfinker) or Olwen (@MsOlwenCowan) or @imaginEDnow for updates. We aim to host one chat per month on the first Wed of the month–#wonderWed of course. This link will provide some tips and information for how to participate.

Bye For Now

And that concludes my IERG News update. Now over to you to fill in the blanks! Please take a moment and leave us a comment, sharing your thoughts or describing something you are doing with IE.  AND sign up to connect on line. I would welcome the opportunity to get in touch.



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