Choosing what to call my blog was both difficult and obvious at the same time. Coming up with a meaningful name is not so easy when there are so many great blogs with names that you would have liked to have used yourself - but when I thought about what it is that is important to me the choice became obvious...
IMAGINATION - is considered "a power of the mind," "a creative faculty of the mind," "the mind" itself when in use, and a "process" of the mind used for thinking, scheming, contriving, remembering, creating, fantasising, and forming opinion. ( University of Chicago) Imagination helps provide meaning to experience, and understanding to knowledge. It can be seen as a fundamental faculty through which people make sense of the world, and it also plays a key role in the learning process. Imagination is a necessary part of creativity.
Malaguzzi saw the importance of imagination's role in creativity - Each 'nest' has an atelier, a large studio/workshop-like artroom, and an atelierista, an art teacher, who works with the children and their teachers. Instead of taking formal art lessons, the children learn to develop various symbolic languages, drawing, painting, constructing as a way of learning to understand the world around them and of expressing their own ideas. The children are encouraged to use their imagination to express their view of the world around them. (The Independent 1994)
Role-play of course being a great process to exercise imagination - in the role-play area, small-world area, when making small figures out of plasticine and then wanting to create your own film. Listening to and telling stories is another great way to exercise imagination. Imagination is needed to create theories. Imagination is without limit - it is what we need to tap into to be creative, to test, experiment to discover if we can do what we have imagined.
One of the big reasons for starting the International Fairy Tea Party in 2013 was to encourage adults to step into the imagination world of children. Play and Imagination are extremely important learning tools, but if adults do not fully understand them then they cannot be used properly - adults might interfere too much, control too much, or not be involved enough. Play and imagination is not simply about letting the children to get on with it in a learning environment like a preschool/nursery school (and also in school) - there should not be learning and play as too separate entities - but as interwoven. Original Learning is about this... about creating a space where there is imaginative learning... creative learning... reflective learning. Play is an essential element for imagination. For me curiosity is also important - and I intend to explore more into what Imagination, creativity and curiosity mean, and how we create psaces that encourage these traits and states... and also how do we know if we are supporting children to be curious, creative and imaginative?
Imagination is the ... what could be, what might be. It is the potential to be whatever you want... BUT there needs to be interaction if we are to support the learning processes of the child's imagination.
"We consider relationships to be the fundamental, organizing strategy of our educational system".
Loris Malaguzzi, 1993, p. 10.
The metaphor of education as relationship provided Loris Malaguzzi with the fundamental premise for his philosophy and pedagogy. The child--seen as powerful, rich in resources, competent, and social -- seeks from the beginning of life to find out about the self, others, and the world through interaction: knowledge is co-constructed. Education, hence, must focus not on the child considered in isolation from others, but instead on the child seen as interconnected with particular others in nested communities: home, classroom, school, neighbourhood, city, region, nation, and eventually extending out to include the whole world.
Carolyn P. Edwards 1995
"Vygotsky proposed that social interaction, especially dialogue, between children and adults is the mechanism through which specific cultural values, customs, and beliefs are transmitted from generation to generation" (Essa, 1999, p.115). Piaget's point of view was that the children not only develop and learn through a series of developmental stages, but that the children learn by constructing their own knowledge as they come in contact with the environment (Seefeldt & Wasik, 2002), suggesting that children learn through interaction with the environment as well as with people.
Interaction is necessary to learn, the interaction between children, between children and teachers, between teachers, between children and parents, between parent and teachers and between children and the world around them... As teachers we need to see the whole picture, the whole child, and that is why interactions with parents are so important for children to be able to learn, to reach their potential. If we cannot see the whole child how can we scaffold the child's learning? How can we entice the child to extend their interests and theories?
We as teachers need to interact with parents and each other to be able to better understand each child and the group. Then there is international interaction - by reading blogs, books and research, by entering dialogues with other teachers around the world we can further open our eyes, and our ears, so that we can be better equipped to see and hear the children. I would also like to add that as teachers we need to interact with our imaginations too... to understand the world of childhood, to understand their play and to comprehend how the children view the world.
There are many things in life a child needs an adult to interact with - to learn skills such as throwing and catching a ball is much easier when there is an adult involved - as adults have developed their throwing and catching techniques that will allow children to learn confidently - the ball is thrown to the child with the right amount of force so that it reaches the child without hurting - also it can be aimed to optimise chances of the ball being caught - this is harder among preschool peers (but not impossible).
Then there is the need to share experiences, finds, discoveries and theories with everyone around - children and adults alike. Interacting with the environment will help a child understand many things, will help a child create own theories, but getting to talk to others will deepen the learning, and by having adults at hand who can guide the child in their learning will further extend the learning. Creativity requires that we interact with others - that we challenge our own perception of what we have seen and experienced, of what we have imagined... so that we can develop them further...
Nature is truly a fabulous way to learn, and I love the fact that my own children have had ample opportunities to interact with nature on many levels - including watching calves being born and how cows are naturally curious and want to check out the new born - that cows do not just eat grass - that eggs are warm when freshly laid... etc
Nature can offer many building materials which require imagination - what shall we build and how? Take for example snow as a natural building tool. There is also the need for interaction with each other to make it happen - as the larger the snowball the heavier it becomes. Then there is the interaction afterwards with the finished product - watching it melt, looking at photographs and talking about what they had done and what they would do next time...?
As educators we need to think of the word Interaction on a deep level. What kind of interactions are we providing. Why are we providing these interactions and not others? Do the interactions encourage language development, social development, physical development, emotion development, cognitive development? How do you encourage the children to interact with the materials, the world, each other? How do you awaken their curiosity? Are the dependant on adults to engage in interactions, or are there opportunities to interact without adult assistance?
How do you know they are interacting?
Interaction Imagination - two necessary tools for creativity, something every child, every human needs.
References Edwards, Gandini and Forman (1998) The Hundred Languages of Children. The Reggio Emilia Approach - Advanced Reflections Ablex Publishing
Essa, E.L. (1999). Introduction to early childhood education. Albany, New York: Delmar.
Seefeldt, C., & Wasik, B. (2002). Kindergarten: fours and fives go to school. Upper Saddle
River, New Jersey: Merrill.