Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies—Winner of the 2011 Imagination Award

Drama Teacher Kori Rushton, Principal Alyce Barr, and Music Teacher Christine Piccirillo from the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies. Photo: Patrick McMullan Company ©2011

As many know, Lincoln Center Institute created the annual Imagination Award to encourage and acknowledge New York City public schools that successfully incorporate and foster imaginative thinking in their teaching and learning practices. It is our pleasure to announce the 2011 winner: Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

The school is a 6th through 12th grade school, winning for its middle school efforts. Before we even read its application, we gave thumbs up to the words “Collaborative Studies” in the school’s name. BSC promotes rigorous study and an engaging curriculum, and pedagogy based on inquiry — meaning that questioning is encouraged. Also, it has created a school culture that demands and teaches compassion and good citizenship—all pedagogical qualities that LCI support.

Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and to all the staff, headed by Principal Alyce Barr, who give the school its direction and guide its students toward desirable goals with imaginative learning.

Art Meets Doctor

Image by Adrian Clark*

Wynn Perry authored a terrific article for Live Science about first-year students at Yale Medical School, whose training includes a visit to the Yale Center for British Art. Exploring art, it turns out, sharpens one’s observational skills—and we all want a very, very observant doctor.

There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

2nd Imagination Practice Winner Announced

Image by Orin Zebest*

We recently announced that the next winning imagination practice might find its way into the upcoming revised edition of Imagination First. Well, so might the winner of the current contest round. Let’s have California teacher Betty Cavanaugh tell you about her imagination practice in her own words:

“What is the world’s biggest secret? That is the prompt I use with students. Their imagination soars with that question because the answers are limitless. After working in a group to generate ridiculous answers, students select their favorite response to develop into a colorful drawing and written story. Some favorite answers include: All the dinosaurs migrated to the center of the earth and their movement causes earthquakes. Animals are actually alien life forms from other planets. Tiny gnomes and fairies come out at night and paint the colors on all the flowers and leaves. Students enjoy playing this ‘game’ that also generates creative, imaginative written responses and dynamic artwork. I have also used this lesson during long car rides with my children.”

Cavanaugh is also an author. For a peek at her book, Multicultural Art Activities, check it out here on Google Books.

Cavanaugh joins our first winner Randy Compton, a Colorado teacher and creator of educational toys called Think-ets, in winning an iPod as a prize. Both might be included in the second edition of Imagination First. The third round of the competition is now underway! Read Imagination First and think about other practices of possibility from your own work and life. Write them up and submit them. Our team will read and review all the practices you submit and post them online. Don’t delay: the deadline to submit your practice for the next round of the competition is November 15th!

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

Back by Popular Demand


Image by Daneil Huggard*

Just a month ago, on April 19, Connecticut hosted an Imagination Conversation, and, to our delight, it will host a second Conversation this Monday, May 24. Steven Dahlberg, director of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, was inspired by the lively debate of the first event, which he hosted, so he proposed another one. This Conversation will take place 7:00–9:00 pm at The Studio @ Billings Forge in Hartford. The theme is “Unleashing and Harnessing the Imagination in Learning and Work,” which certainly sounds provocative. The citizens eager to delve into the importance and potential of the imagination are asked to bring their own “imagination story.”

But no promotion is needed from us; let us just quote Mr. Dahlberg’s blog:

“Connecticut has a long tradition of creativity, invention and innovation, but the current economic downturn and increased worldwide competition mean that we cannot take our position for granted. Now more than ever, we must nurture imagination in our schools, create environments for innovation in workplaces, and build cultures for creativity in our communities.”

Decidedly food for thought. Equally inspiring is the fact that Connecticut isn’t the only state that has decided to organize not just one but a whole series of Conversations: Massachusetts and Ohio have already done so. Here’s hoping the trend will continue.

If you wish to attend the May 24 Imagination Conversation, visit for detailed information.


*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

LCI Announces Contest–Play Now!


If you’ve read Imagination First, you know that imagination can be practiced until it becomes your number one helper in daily life, in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen—everywhere you need it. To prove the point, the book focuses on many successful professionals, from a Disney Imagineer to a Whole Foods exec, who set some time aside every day to actively practice imagination. Their practices are fascinating and range from “Why didn’t I think of that?” to “OMG, I never would have thought of that.”

So what’s your practice? Describe it for us and tell us how it serves you. It doesn’t matter whether you use it to teach, to learn, to expand your horizons through books or travel, or to communicate with your teenager. We want to know about it, and we’ll even reward you for it. Lincoln Center Institute is conducting a friendly contest: every three months we’ll choose the practice that most captures our own imagination and the winner will get an iPod, a gift from publishers Jossey-Bass, and other “merchandise”—meaning fun stuff from different companies. And don’t worry if you don’t send us your practice by the first deadline: you’ll have another chance, and a third! So play!

For deadlines and specific rules click here. Good luck!


LCI addresses UNESCO


Image by Jane Hoffer

There is great excitement at Lincoln Center Institute these days, in anticipation of two major events in May. For the first time in the Institute’s history, it will present a professional development seminar in Seoul, Korea, May 21–25, hosted in alliance with Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture (SFAC). While there, we will have the honor of yet another first for us: the Seoul Educators Workshop 2010 is the pre-event of the second UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education, hosted by Korea, and our Executive Director (and Imagination Now featured blogger), Scott Noppe-Brandon, has been invited to speak before an assembly of world’s cultural leaders. The UNESCO conference will look at the role of the arts both in and outside of the environment, and will hear diverse ideas about the future of arts education.

In his speech, Scott will address the international significance of LCI’s collaboration with SFAC, the invaluable relationship of LCI’s teaching artists with classroom teachers, and, of course, the importance of imagination—no longer the province of the arts alone, but the basis of the imagination-creativity-innovation paradigm that today fuels the progress of our society. And that means a changed education, fulfilling careers, and new visions of the world ahead.


Making a Difference with Imagination

In an interview yesterday, December 17, on Seattle’s NPR station KUOW-FM, Eric Liu spoke with the host of Weekday, Steve Scher, about Imagination First, the book that he and Scott Noppe-Brandon co-authored.

“Imagination is the capacity to imagine ‘what if’,” Eric said. He proceeded to talk about the fact that it is easier to kill imagination than to use it—because of our innate fear of the new and the unknown. And yet, sometimes issues that require imaginative solutions, and seem forbidding when they first arise, a year later, or a mere week later, seem obvious and easy to espouse.

Eric related the idea to the hot topic of the day: health care reform. How can President Obama change the paradigm? Eric is convinced that imagination is the key, and that, here again, this issue, which has inspired more heated debate than perhaps any national concern in the past fifty years, will become a natural part of our lives when seen in retrospective—when the nation detaches itself from the fear of disturbing the status quo; when it allows itself to imagine freely; when it dares to ask “what if” along with those elected to provide the answers.

The conversation, lasting nearly an hour, addressing several topics and crackling with ideas from Eric, Weekday’s host, and several listeners who called in, was an exemplar of the extraordinary social importance of the imagination. To hear the complete podcast, go to