…it is so essential to not only success in school and life, but in our own happiness. I think back to being a child and how boundless my imagination seemed. Hours upon hours spent dreaming, plotting, and playing out fantasies that were all very real in my heart. I look at myself today and see evidence of that kid, but the truth is my imagination is most certainly bound now. I would tend to think that those that are able to keep their imagination free and unfettered are some of our most successful businessmen and women, technologists, writers, and visionaries.
In terms of current education, I feel strongly that we need to be fostering the continued growth of imagination in our students. I’m as guilty as anyone at times with how my classroom operates. (My more traditional classroom setting has that prison-like feel to it some days where I’m the sole authority of knowledge and my students are their to just ‘learn their lesson’) Still, what has been one of the coolest experiences of developing a PBL classroom has been seeing students suddenly re-engaging their imaginations to develop projects that matter to them.
Don’t get me wrong–I have several students who really struggle coming up with creative solutions to the problems that these projects present, but I think that may be the result of their own imaginations being suppressed over time in school, or at home for that matter. The students who really take advantage of what PBL offers often times astound me with their work. I’ve seen everything from community events to educational green spaces to 3D interactive educational timeline boards (more on that one later) to ninety page novellas from my students. The point is that the result of these projects would be very rare in a traditional classroom. Why? Because there is no time considering the pacing of units and preparation for tests, right?! No matter the reason or what we might want to blame for hampering our students’ imaginations, what we really need to do is continue to find ways to re-engage those imaginations.
I strongly encourage any one out there that is involved in educating our youth to foster their imaginations by using any means possible to show what they can build, develop, redesign, re-image, write, craft, or invent. The key to their future as well as our own is most often found in unlocking the potential of the human mind.