Walt Disney, one of the most creative individuals of all time, was known as a champion of imagination. He is quoted as saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” He firmly believed this, and his countless cartoons and his flagship theme parks attest to the strength of his belief.
Students need to understand the power of their imagination and its overall impact on their creativity. Teachers can create classroom conditions that help foster the development of both. In the book Sparking Student Creativity author Patty Drapeau identifies and explains four classroom conditions necessary for unleashing student imagination:
- Challenge: Real-world challenges help nurture imagination and creative problem solving. Introduce content specific challenges and give students the intellectual freedom to pursue answers.
- Knowledge: Prior experiences inform current student practices. Ask students to build on what they already know to extend their imaginative abilities.
- Environment: Make failing forward part of your classroom culture. Allow students to try, make mistakes, and fail on occasion. Talk about your own attempts and failures.
- Motivation: Meaningful tasks motivate. Help students identify the purpose behind the project or process. Create opportunities for success, because success helps students persist.
As you prepare for next week, imagine the kind of experiences you want for your students and create them. Challenge students with relevant problems. Build on prior knowledge. Make mistakes and failure less fearful. Engage students in meaningful work. You and your students will be glad you did!