MASUM BILLAH


Engaging students’ imaginations in learning is a key to successful teaching. Over the years many suggestions have been made for how to do this, but making its achievement a routine part of the classroom experience has proven quite elusive. It provides a new way of understanding how students’ imaginations work in learning, and it does so in a way that suggests specific teaching techniques. Educating learners is successful when they are innovative and can bring novelty and imaginative education ensures it. Imaginative Education is the ability to think of the possible, not just the actual; it is the source of invention, novelty, and flexibility in human thinking; it is not distinct from rationality but is rather a capacity that greatly enriches rational thinking. It is tied to our ability to form images in the mind, and image-forming commonly involves emotions. Imaginative Education offers a new approach to education that effectively meets the necessary objectives of education. It accomplishes it mainly by engaging students' emotions and also, connectedly, their imaginations in the material of the curriculum. It is not new to point out that children's thinking is most deeply and energetically engaged when their imagination and emotions are in play. What is new and unique about Imaginative Education is that it offers a theory and a set of frameworks and techniques for actually accomplishing this within the mainstream academic curriculum. It offers the learners a new understanding of how knowledge grows in the mind, and how our imaginations work and change during our lives. When teachers engage students' imaginations in learning students will improve their educational performance by any test or measure.

Writing has always been the hardest skill for our students to develop. One of the most important ingredients is learning to write in a foreign language is motivation. Applying imaginative approach we can teach writing to our students. Several techniques have been described here which English teachers can use to develop the writing abilities of the students. A teacher can tell the students to write a composition using one of the following ideas—

(i) if a crocodile came into the class to study English?

(ii) if one day we found the streets in our city covered with grass and flowers?

(iii) if you become a bird in this moment?

This kind of topic will give them amusement which is necessary for learning. Again, it will give them ample scope to utilize their imagination.  Side by side their writing ability and imaginative faculty will develop.

A Teacher can prepare a list of questions with the verb tense that he/she wants to practice. For example: Who was she/he/it? Where were she/he/it? What was she/he/it doing? What did she/he/it say? What did she/he/it/say to the people? How did the story finish? Students will use their imagination to find out the answers coupled with their language and grammar practice through this exercise.

Have each student take a sheet of paper. Ask the questions listed above one at a time. After the students have answered the first question, they should fold up their sheets so that the answer is hidden and then pass their paper along to another student. Then have them write an answer to the second question, fold the paper to hide the answer and pass it along as before. Continue in this way until all questions have been answered.  Each student should answer the questions according to the original idea he or she had when answering the first question. Have each student unfold the sheet that he or she has at the end and write a short story by joining these sentences into a paragraph on a new sheet of paper. Maybe it does not have a good sense. But students have the scope to use their imagination and language practice. Have the students read the stories aloud and choose the funniest or most nonsensical one.

Teacher can tell the students to draw a picture. Two students must draw on the same sheet and neither of them has to take into account what the other has drawn. Each one must write a composition describing the final picture. They must discuss which composition better reflects their picture and explain why. Here their imaginative faculty will find its expression.
 He can prepare a sheet with different prefixes and make as many photocopies as there are groups in the class and cut them out. Then he can tell the students write down simple nouns ( e.g. pen, nose, bed, book, dog, house etc). They must then randomly combine the prefixes with the nouns. They should then write down a list of the new words.

Cutting  out some headlines from a newspaper and get them  photocopied to hand out to each group. The students must mix up the words in the headlines to make funny new headlines. They are acceptable if they are grammatically correct. After the students have written the new headlines, they must write a piece of news to go with one of them. Simple resources can be used by English teachers who want to develop their students’ creativity and imaginative faculty and newspapers are those simple resources.

The teacher can tell the students to think of a well-known traditional story such as hare and tortoise, the crow and a small amount of water. Through this practice is in play in our new curriculum, students don’t try to use their imagination, they memorize them from the known sources of the books instead. The teacher can also have them write a composition, giving the characters values exactly opposite to those they have in the real story which we never do to utilize their imagination.

The wicked characters become the good ones and vice-verso Imagination is too often seen as something peripheral to the core of education, something taken care of by allowing students time to “express themselves” in “the arts,” while the proper work of educating goes on in the sciences and math and in developing conventionally efficient literacy. In the approach described here, imagination is at the center of education; it is seen as crucial to any subject, mathematics and science no less than history and literature. Imagination can be the main workhorse of effective learning if we yoke it to education’s central tasks.

The mention of emotions might be a bit unexpected, but it is crucial because the imagination is tied in complex ways with our emotional lives. Students don’t need a throbbing passion for learning algebra or a swooning joy in learning about punctuation, but successful education does require some emotional involvement of the student with the subject matter. All knowledge is human knowledge and all knowledge is a product of human hopes, fears, and passions. To bring knowledge to life in students’ minds we must introduce it to students in the emotional context Kieran Egan, (born 1942) is a contemporary educational philosopher and a student of the classics, anthropology, cognitive psychology, and cultural history. He has written on issues in education and child development, with an emphasis on the uses of imagination. In his latest book, Kieran Egan gives teachers creative ways to use learning tools at their disposal. Egan explains that all children come into the classroom knowing how to use certain "cognitive tools" for learning. An imaginative teacher can use these tools to provide engaging lessons, if there is a desire to reach the creative side of each student. His work has focused on teaching techniques that foster and develop the imagination of children. With An Imaginative Approach to Teaching, Egan provides educators with new ways to promote creativity in the classroom. Teachers as the agent of blooming imaginative qualities of the learners must be acquainted with the ways Egan has suggested.


MASUM BILLAH: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program and Vice- President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.


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