Imagination Abroad

While Lincoln Center Institute’s advocacy on behalf of imagination, creativity, and innovation in education and all aspects of life and work constantly gains new ground in the U.S., we are acutely aware that there are many parts of the world where our ideology has not yet made inroads. Since a part of our vision is determinedly global, as we believe that imaginative education must nurture a deep understanding of diverse cultures, it is encouraging to know that we’re by no means alone.

In July, as LCI readied for its own American Imagination Summit, GFEN held a series of nationwide conferences with the theme “For an Other Education.” Promising—but, ask you, what is GFEN?

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A School Grows in Portland

Image by Iñaki Vinaixa

Image by Iñaki Vinaixa

On the other side of North America, far from Lincoln Center Institute’s New York City office, sits Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, home to the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG). Founded in 2001 by Simon Fraser faculty and guided in part by the work of Professor Kieran Egan, IERG consists of “researchers, teachers, graduate students, parents, and others” who advocate an educational approach called Imaginative Education. Similar as this sounds to what we do at LCI, it’s not identical, the most basic difference being that our core philosophy involves the development of ten “Capacities for Imaginative Learning,” whereas IERG’s is based on “five distinctive kinds of understanding” that students may achieve with the aid of certain “cognitive tools.” But the two organizations share a common practical goal: we want to see imaginative teaching and learning in classrooms.

To this end, IERG has joined with the Corbett school district in Portland, Oregon, to open the first charter school based on Imaginative Education principles this month. The culmination of several years of partnership—IERG members have given workshops at Corbett, and teachers and administrators from Corbett have attended IERG conferences—this international venture is a worthy object of study for those of us interested in implementing imaginative curricula in schools.

Lincoln Center Institute is also moving through the application process to open a charter school here in New York. We would be wise to stay informed of the Corbett charter school’s progress and learn from it as we look ahead to our own future endeavors. And now, when the doubtful ask, “But what does imaginative education look like?”, part of our answer can be, “Corbett.”