There is always a tension between what is and what ought to be. These tension, which mostly arises within individuals, triggers imagination. If we see imagination in this view, then it is not mysterious at all. Imagination does not happen “just like that”. Neither is it present more in a certain group of people and less in others, nor does it require inborn talent.
This also implies that learners can be encouraged to be more imaginative. To do so, we would have to make the learners aware of the currently existing system and provide them the opportunity to use that knowledge to envision something. To make learners aware of the currently existing system may involve pedagogical practices like delivering lectures, group discussions, literature review and research work, technology-enabled information transfer, etc. Depending on the context, different methods could be used.
To encourage students to use their knowledge work on something they have envisioned, we need to support them and allow them the freedom to be imaginative. This support involves allowing autonomy in thinking and deciding their works, designing learning environments that are flexible to the individual needs of the learners, and providing ample opportunities to learn skills and gather information that is necessary to envision the idea. The most important part, in my view, is that larger portion of the learning time should be allocated to playing with the knowledge they have. Playing may involve engaged discussions, projects, write-ups or other modes of expressions, or even thinking alone. Learners should not be bogged down only on information and knowledge gathering process – which we generally enforce by adhering to broad syllabuses. All these resonate with my earlier post where I had highlighted the importance of autonomy and personalization in learning environments.
Imagination is important not just to support creative endeavors, but to ensure meaningful learning experiences. However, there is no one “correct” way to do create an imagination-supportive learning environment. If you had the opportunity to design such a learning environment, how would you do it?