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Destination: Imagination

What is the definition of a true education? This is the question my college English professor proposed to the class during the first few weeks of this semester. To be quite honest this is an answer that I am still seeking. It has been instilled in me from an early age that education equals success. However, when this answer was offered to pacify her, it failed miserably. She suggested that education meant more. The professor explained that education not only helps a person better themselves, or open up opportunities but it allows an individual to improve their society. Thus education plays a major role in society so the ways we are educating the current generation must be effective.

In America where every citizen, no matter what the IQ score, carries the responsibility to vote on government officials and decisions must ensure that each citizen has a standard of education. This may relieve some concerned individuals’ thoughts of this country’s future being handed down to a generation that is not truly educated. However, it does not change the fact that children are being pushed through this education ‘factory’ and have not had an ounce of chance to tap into their true potential. It is a devastating site to see schools where teachers are shoving information in student’s mind in order to reach far enough to pass a standardized test and then shoved out into the real world resulting in a group of people who have never found a love for education, imagination, or critical thinking. I myself am a product of this system and feel it an injustice that I was deprived of such critical tools to life. America’s education system needs to radically evolve into a source of nurture and love for knowledge and learning through imagination and critical thinking not recitation, and memorization which have proved time and time again to be ineffective.

Through imagination, knowledge has a unique opportunity to be completely relatable and thus absorbed more effectively. Kieran Egan states, “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 context of the human hopes, fears and passions in which it finds its fullest meaning. The best tool for this is the imagination” (Egan, 2005). Many education officials put education and learning in a box. That box has been labeled with a big letterB.O.R.I.N.G. but I stand up and say that it does not have to be that way. Imagination is the answer. “The role of imagination in perceiving can breathe life into teaching, learning, and education.” Andrea Gallant states. Teachers, make your jobs more interesting and engage your students in imaginative ways. I will always remember the time that my biology teacher brought in a make shift life-sized cell and asked us to split into groups that each made a cell organelle and described its function. I retained much of the information I learned during that class.  Imagination is the key and yet our education system is overlooking it.

Another crucial variable in the equation for the success of the education system is equipping students to think critically. Once knowledge is gathered and absorbed through imagination critical thinking then must be utilized in transporting that knowledge into tangible ideas such as inventions or new discoveries. Critical thinking enables individuals to take a learned concept and apply it under different circumstances. Critical thinking involves the following abilities according to R.T. Pithers: “clarifying and focusing the problem; and analyzing, understanding and making use of inferences, inductive and deductive logic, as well as judging the validity and reliability of the assumptions, sources of data or information available.” I personally did not begin to think critically until I started college and information was no longer spoon fed to me.

So I now ask you the question, What is true education? To my knowledge it is the ability to understand, imagine, and think on your own. However, the current education system does not provide students with the means to do so with. Many educators feel comfortable with the common unimaginative, spoon-feeding means of education and argue that imagination would distract from learning even though imagination and learning coincide. There are radical changes that need to be made in today’s current education system. Imagination and critical thinking are catalysts that it needs.

Egan, Kieran. An Imaginative Approach to Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005. Print.

Egan, Kieran. The Future of Education: Reimagining Our Schools from the Ground up. New Haven: Yale UP, 2008. Print.

Gallant, Andrea. “imagination:Resuscitating Education.” (2008). Web. 01 Apr. 2011..

Pithers, R.T. “Critical Thinking in Education: a Review.”Educational Research 42.3 (2000): 237-49. Print.

Categories: Curriculum Reform
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