Values and Imagination in Teaching – With a Special Focus on Social Studies

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Both local and global issues are typically dealt with in the Social Studies curriculum, or in curriculum areas with other names but similar intents. In the literature about Social Studies the imagination has played little role, and consequently it hardly appears in texts designed to help teachers plan and implement Social Studies lessons. What is true of Social Studies is also largely reflected in general texts concerning planning teaching. Clearly many theorists and practitioners are concerned to engage students’ imaginations in learning, even though they use terms other than ‘imagination’ in doing so. This article suggests that a more explicit attention to imagination can make our efforts to engage students in learning more effective. We provide, first, a working definition of imagination, then show how students’ imaginations can be characterized in terms of the ‘cognitive toolkits’ they bring to learning. We look at such ‘cognitive tools’ as stories, images, humor, binary oppositions, a sense of mystery and how these can be used to engage students’ imaginations in learning Social Studies and other content from kindergarten to about grade four. We then consider ‘cognitive tools’ commonly deployed by students from about grade four to grade nine, including a sense of reality, the extremes of experience and limits of reality, and associating with the heroic. We also provide examples of how using such tools could influence planning and teaching Social Studies topics.

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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