Changes in the Education Systems of East Asian Countries Look to the West

Image by David Woo*

Success carries its own need for change

Since World War II, East Asia has had the fastest-growing economy in the world. Japan was rapidly joined by China, Singapore, South Korea, and other nations seemingly swept along by each other’s successes in the marketplace.

From the beginning of its post-war ascent, East Asia has made education a priority. Now, the face of its education is changing. While this is much less debated than the economy, it is certain to have a profound effect on East Asian rapport with the West.

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The Imagination Network

Image by Jane Hoffer

What do Disney, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and the U.S. Army have in common? Representatives from all three organizations appeared at America’s Imagination Summit, the education event that Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) hosted in New York City this past July. Their presence was not arbitrary; rather, I believe that the dynamic intersection of such diverse influencers can lead to change in our country’s schools.

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New Imagination Conversation Videos are Online

For those of you who haven’t been able to attend any Imagination Conversations, there are, fortunately, many recordings of these events available online. Since 2009, 36 Conversations have taken place across the U.S. We can now add to the list of those that have been recorded the Los Angeles and Florida Conversations.

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Imagination: The Greatest Problem Solver

Image by IICD*

When hurricane Irene hit, we instinctively looked to the individuals and organizations whom we admire for their imaginative strength to do something practical, something that would instantly come to the aid of those in need, without speeches, without philosophical observations, without ideological investment in the future. Something practical—now.

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Good Sportsmanship—Win to Win

racquetball equipment

Image by exfordy*

An enhanced edition of Imagination First, the book I wrote with Eric Liu in 2009, was published in paperback on April 26th. Watching it go out into the world a second time has prompted me to revisit the question: what kind of impact would I like the book to have?

A brief, breezy personal anecdote will illustrate the more serious point I want to reach. I used to play racquetball on a regular basis with two friends, a Ph.D. in psychology and an attorney. The psychologist’s strategy—which may or may not have had to do with his profession—was invariably to try to psyche his opponents out and make us play below our usual level. But when I competed against Joe, the attorney, he played with a healthy intensity that drove me to play better—which then led him to play even better. We pushed each other to improve our games, and no matter who won, that always felt pretty good. Continue reading

Imagination First Comes Out in Paperback

In their 2009 book Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility, Imagination Now contributors Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon debunked a few myths, took imagination off its lofty pedestal, and made their premise clear: everyone has imagination! It is an essential cognitive skill that this society needs in large supplies if it is to meet the future head-on, and since it is a skill, it must be practiced.

The pragmatic approach, resulting in the description of actual imagination practices that are at the core of the book, paid off: the readers were at the very least intrigued, at best they were inspired to change their work strategies, their academic practices, even their private lives. They came from fields of interest as diverse as those of the imagination practitioners described on the book’s pages: think food retailer, teacher, marine corps officers.

Imagination First has just been reprinted in paperback edition. There was a specific purpose to this second edition: to reflect on what had been learned since the first edition, to “enhance” the book with additional texts and information, and, given its original success, to make sure that it reached the widest audience ever. Continue reading

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.

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.”