Nobody can inspire us like great teachers can. They seem to come along at just the right moment,..
In a truly creative classroom, teachers need to plan time in their lessons for change and growth. They must allow children to transition from knowledge gathering and memorizing to synthesizing and puzzle solving. This comes from teaching with imagination and encouraging students to learn in the same way.
Imagination is what stays when teachers are gone from their students’ lives. It's what students have taken from a creative classroom and into real life. While basic knowledge and facts are important building blocks, imagination is the synthesis of that knowledge. It's the vehicle that gets learners from point A to point B on their own.
We can’t actually teach how to have imagination—we can only teach using our imagination.
Creativity is a process that can be learned, but the fuel that fires it—our imagination—is a personal voyage of discovery that we can encourage.
Students have to use and trust their own imaginations in order to exercise them. It’s a path they have to take on their own. We can guide them through the process by teaching with imagination and modelling that wonder, but it’s their own skills that will serve them.
Why do we need to continue teaching with imagination? Because imagination drives human discovery.
Fostering a Creative Classroom With Imagination
Why do we need to always be teaching with imagination? As previously discussed, since we can’t teach imagination itself, as teachers we need to model it. We have to remain imaginative in our own problem-solving tasks. This is especially true when it comes to helping students overcome learning difficulties that might arise. Here are a few ways we can do that.
Encourage Growth: Let them know the difference between knowledge and imagination. Posters can be starting points for conversation; say, things like:
- Now that we know the facts, let’s see how we can use that information to solve this problem.
- What kinds of strategies can we use to tackle this issue?
No matter what, when teaching with imagination, keep your language focused on Growth Mindset. Your own curiosity has to be infectious.
Keep Playing: Try word games, puns and riddles, solve-the-mystery stories, lateral thinking puzzles, and more. It’s one thing for them to solve the ones we give them—when they make them up themselves, it’s all the sweeter.
Be inspired: Imagination inspires and teachers and friends who imagine outwardly inspire those around them. Their love of learning and curiosity are infectious. There seems to be an erroneous concept that facts have to be presented first before the fun imaginative investigations can take place, but don’t get stuck there.
Imagination gives rise to other questions. It’s then that new facts can be presented with more relevance than if you simply were to give them to students on the board.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jul 19, 2017, updated October 18, 2021