Lincoln Center Institute’s Capacities for Imaginative Learning

Image by Nancy Bareis

A growing number of blog visitors have been seeking information about Lincoln Center Institute‘s Capacities for Imaginative Learning.

LCI has created the Capacities for Imaginative Learning as a framework for student learning, applicable to the Common Core Standards across the curriculum. The Capacities operate as both strategies for, and outcomes of, study according to LCI’s practice.

The Capacities for Imaginative Learning are:

Noticing Deeply to identify and articulate layers of detail in a work of art or other object of study through continuous interaction with it over time.

Embodying to experience a work of art or other object of study through your senses, as well as emotionally, and also to physically represent that experience.

Questioning to ask questions throughout your explorations that further your own learning; to ask the question, “What if?”

Making Connections to connect what you notice and the patterns you see to your prior knowledge and experiences, to others’ knowledge and experiences, and to text and multimedia resources.

Identifying Patterns to find relationships among the details that you notice, group them, and recognize patterns.

Exhibiting Empathy to respect the diverse perspectives of others in the community; to understand the experiences of others emotionally, as well as intellectually.

Living with Ambiguity to understand that issues have more than one interpretation, that not all problems have immediate or clear-cut solutions, and to be patient while a resolution becomes clear.

Creating Meaning to create your own interpretations based on the previous capacities, see these in the light of others in the community, create a synthesis, and express it in your own voice.

Taking Action to try out new ideas, behaviors or situations in ways that are neither too easy nor too dangerous or difficult, based on the synthesis of what you have learned in your explorations.

Reflecting/Assessing to look back on your learning, continually assess what you have learned, assess/identify what challenges remain, and assess/identify what further learning needs to happen. This occurs not only at the end of a learning experience, but is part of what happens throughout that experience. It is also not the end of your learning; it is part of beginning to learn something else.

Click here to download a copy of LCI’s Capacities for Imaginative Learning (pdf)

A Convergence of Disciplines: Singapore’s New ArtScience Museum

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Last week in the Bangkok Post, Ezra Kyrill Erker wrote about the stunning new ArtScience Museum in Singapore and about its three inaugural exhibitions. First of all, the lotus-shaped museum building by architect Moshe Safdie is quite beautiful and, most of all, fascinating—a part of Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. The headline for Erker’s article is “A Station for the Imagination.” And, if that wasn’t enough to draw me in, the museum’s tagline is “Embark on journeys through curiosity, inspiration and expression.” As a “curiosity junkie” of sorts, I couldn’t resist a closer look. The idea of art and science as conjoined (as in the museum’s moniker), is appealing as an exemplar of the ideal of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that integrates arts-centered learning, a sometime-topic featured on this blog. The museum’s website describes this foundational idea:

“The Museum’s showpiece exhibition, the ArtScience Gallery, is an homage and introduction to the nascent field of ArtScience. What unites Art and Science is the instinct to observe, connect, take risks and explore new ideas and ways of understanding nature’s wisdom and experiences that shape our culture. Visitors to the ArtScience Gallery will explore these mysterious connections between the arts and the sciences through three galleries – Curiosity, Inspiration and Expression – thus undergoing their own journey of creativity.

“The Museum will also play host to marquee exhibitions curated by leading museums and collections. These visiting exhibitions will be recast through the lens of ArtScience, allowing visitors to experience the creative process and interaction of influences that gave rise to great moments, movements and inspirations in time.

“Unique to the region, the ArtScience Museum expresses Singapore’s priorities and ambition to be the exchange capital of the world, providing an internationally renowned forum for the exchange of the latest ideas and theories. The ArtScience Museum is an endowment to Singapore’s creative class, and it is Singapore’s gift to the world.”

As Erker articulates it, “science is more subjective, imaginative and creative than many assume,…art is empirical and applied and thus the two fields rely on one another.” The museum’s permanent exhibition organizes the visitor’s experience through three the three concepts representing curiosity, inspiration and expression. According to the website, “by demonstrating how creative minds meld the disciplines of art and science to make objects that transform our world, [the exhibition] takes visitors on a journey inside the creative process across three unique spaces.”

Erker also reviews the three current temporary exhibitions, one of which is the Silk Road exhibit from the American Museum of American History in New York. It is interesting to contemplate this visiting work from the perspective of “ArtScience.” Check out Erker’s full article here.

The “ICI Continuum”: Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation

I noticed recently that a number of readers had arrived at the Imagination Now site hoping to learn more about the imagination-creativity-innovation continuum, something that Scott Noppe-Brandon speaks about often and something that comes up frequently as a topic of discussion during the Imagination Conversations happening around the country. To help satisfy that curiosity, here is an explication of the concept that might serve as a foundation for your own further discussion or investigation:

“We define imagination simply as the capacity to conceive of what is not—something that, as far as we know, does not exist; or something that may exist but we simply cannot perceive, It is the ability to conjure new realities and possibilities: in John Dewey’s words, ‘to look at things as if they would be otherwise.’…

“If imagination is the capacity to conceive of what is not, then creativity, in turn, is imagination applied: doing something, or making something, with that initial conception. But not all acts of creativity are inherently innovative. In our view, innovation comes when an act of creativity has somehow advanced the form….

“Imagination → Creativity (imagination applied) → Innovation (novel creativity)”

Liu, Eric, and Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009, p. 19-20.

What We Learn from Animals: How to Play

Image by Steve Jurvetson*

In a January 21 Huffington Post entry, Brenda Peters writes of important lessons gleaned from the animal world: play in order to thrive.

Peters, who has studied wild dolphins, writes that in play, dolphins learn essential survival and relationship skills. Rats apparently laugh more readily than humans (see the video). In some species, the absence of play could signify that an individual is in psychological distress (see this brief article about chimpanzees from the Jane Goodall Institute). Scientists theorize that individuals who play the most are most instrumental in advancing the evolution of their species (read more in the preface to this book). And in play, both animals and humans let down their guard and take risks—opening themselves up to grow and love and learn, and sometimes opening themselves to real physical danger or loss.

“Play doesn’t end in childhood or in the animal kingdom,” writes Peters. “Play is also about developing a lifelong imagination that is flexible and responsive to one’s environment. True play calls forth from us, animals and humans alike, the highest creativity and inventiveness.” For Peters, to be visionary requires a sense of infinite possibility that may be nurtured in play. Check out her full post here.

Click here to watch a video presentation by Stuart L. Brown, author of National Geographic’s “Animals at Play.”

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

Give Them Room to “Just Do the Thing”

High school history teacher Diana Laufenberg has witnessed some amazing learning—and learned to step back and allow her students to fail along the way.

In this brief TED Talks video, Laufenberg discusses how profound changes in the information landscape have altered education, opening up opportunities for experiential, student-centered learning focused on exploration and creativity. During her father’s childhood, she explains, kids went to school to gain information; school was where the information was. When she was a kid, her parents bought a set of encyclopedias and, as the locus of information shifted to include her home, education shifted as well. Students in the public high school where Laufenberg now teaches each have a laptop that is fully connected and portable. If information is everywhere, what is school for? Laufenberg argues for learning as a creative process involving failure, processing failure, learning from failure, and trying again. School is no longer about accessing information—kids can do that anywhere; school can now be about playing with information. Want to hear more about the kinds of activities that have opened up these types of learning experiences for Laufenberg’s students? Click here for the full 10-minute video.

Lincoln Center Institute’s Pepsi Refresh Project

Take a few minutes in your morning routine to vote for Lincoln Center Institute!

Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), Lincoln Center’s core education program reaching over 400,000 students throughout the country, is competing for $250,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Project.

During the month of December, your daily vote can mean much-needed support of students and teachers in underserved schools in New York City and around the country. LCI’s work goes beyond traditional “arts in education,” inspiring creative problem solving and critical thinking while helping students prepare to enter the workforce.

Voting is easy!

  1. Visit
  2. Registration is simple, especially if you connect your Refresh Project login to your Facebook account
  3. You can vote every day! Make us part of your morning routine! Get your coffee, check your email, and visit to vote for Lincoln Center Institute.
  4. Tell your friends, post on Facebook, and Tweet your support for Lincoln Center Institute (which you can do right from our Refresh Project page)!

Voting ends on December 31, 2010. Please vote every day!

Submit an Imagination Practice and Your Idea May Be Featured in the New Paperback Edition of Imagination First!

Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility will be out in paperback in spring of 2011! This time around, Lincoln Center Institute will take an interactive approach with our readers by incorporating some of your ideas into this publication—you never know, you may just end up with your name in print!

To submit an imagination practice that you would like us to consider for inclusion in the spring 2011 Imagination First paperback edition, we ask that you enter our ongoing imagination practices contest. As you may know, LCI has been running this contest since spring 2010 and awarding winners with an iPod. (Our first winner was a wonderfully imaginative Colorado teacher who had come up with a toy to get families to use their imaginations.) As you also know, Imagination First is based on real-life imagination practices used “routinely” by those in the workforce, including educators, inventors, businesspeople, and even army officers. The new edition will have a greater focus on education.

So, we invite you to send in your own imagination practice NOW. Practices must be sent to us by November 15th to be in the running for prizes including an iPod, and, now, the possible inclusion of your entry in the new edition of the book as well.

What do you do to fire up your imagination and the imaginations of others?

Please visit for more information, to view the imagination practices contest rules and to enter. Let us hear from you today!

Council of School Supervisors & Administrators: Embracing Imagination, Fostering Creativity

On November 13th, 2010 the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators will convene for their annual educational leadership conference, this year centering on the theme “Embracing Imagination, Fostering Creativity.” Lincoln Center Institute is co-sponsoring and will present several sessions at the event, including an Imagination Conversation moderated by Sade Baderinwa, WABC news anchor.

Today CSA President Ernest Logan published a commentary discussing education and accountability and the central role of imagination in student success. Not surprisingly, a recent meeting Logan held with Scott Noppe-Brandon, LCI’s Executive Director and co-author of Imagination First, seemed to fuel his thinking about these issues. “For centuries, the arts have been a civilizing force in society. Imagination, whether in the arts or any other sphere, has elevated us above all other creatures.”

Click here to access Logan’s post via Facebook.

Click here to access the post via the CSA Website.

Catch an Interview with Scott Noppe-Brandon on BlogTalkRadio!

Image by Jane Hoffer

Scott Noppe-Brandon, Lincoln Center Institute’s Executive Director and co-author of the book Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility, will appear on the show Creativity in Play, hosted by Steven Dahlberg and Mary Alice Long, Ph.D., and produced by the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.

Catch the interview live on Wednesday October 20th at 2:00pm. UPDATE: The interview will be carried live on Wednesday November 3rd at noon EDT.

Hear Scott Speak on Blog Talk Radio

Tomorrow, Friday, at 10 am, our Executive Director, Scott Noppe-Brandon will be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio. Expect to hear a lively discussion about the purposes and practical applications of the imaginative themes in Scott’s book Imagination First. Participate! – the call-in number is 877.483.3161. Log on to and click the play icon to “listen to your radio.”