Imagination, more important than knowledge
Albert Einstein stated that imagination is more important than knowledge. Just imagine if 6.5 billion people collectively and simultaneously danced and sang, if women were in the majority of positions of leadership and influence in the world, if everyone had adequate health care at a reasonable cost, if every student who applied for a scholarship would receive one, if 100 percent of staff and faculty contributed to the scholarship fund, if no students would withdraw from school, and if?
Four years ago, I was watching the closing of the 2012 Olympics when suddenly John Lennon appeared on a mega-screen to sing his song “Imagine”—what if there was no more war but peace here and now? The song concludes: “You, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us – and the world will live as one.” Or “You, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us – and the academic community will move forward as one.” The Olympics’ theme song is “Summon the Heroes” – calling on all those committed to “Dream…Learn It. Live It,” who strive to make the ordinary extraordinary.
In Shelley Carson’s book, Your Creative Brain, 2010 – she discusses 7 dimensions of Creative thinking, processing, and implementing that which we could adopt and adapt in our classes, so as to challenge our students to imagine possibilities while imagining novel solutions so as to problem solve in anyone of our courses.
Here are her 7 dimensions of creativity:
CREATE= CONNECT, REASON, ENVISION, ABSORB, TRANSFORM, EVALUATE, AND STREAM—-however, this is the process which they logically and sequentially unfold: ABSORB, ENVISION, CONNECT, REASON, EVALUATE, TRANSFORM, AND STREAM
She also states that we think visually rather than verbally. We are able to see and manipulate objects in our mind’s eye. We see patterns emerge. We see the similarities between different objects. She offers 7 criteria for our consideration of thinking visually:
- Pre-frontal cortex – develops until age 25, then age 27 it begins to decline – that is, unless you take necessary measures to develop it.
- Neuroplasticity – power of the brain to repair, regenerate, and reorganize itself. Ten years ago this was not thought to be the case.
- Mental image – can you summon a loved one, the music of a favorite song, or a positive educational experience? This is an unsolicited e-mail from a student who “summoned” the following comments:
“I just wanted to say thanks again for your patience. I really put effort in trying to get the last assignments in with dignity. I didn’t want to hand in garbage because I take your class seriously. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined I would. At first I was a little leery about this course because I guess I have never been challenged in a way in which I had to take a solid look at myself and how I process thoughts and form opinions. You have opened my eyes to a lot of ways of doing things in a manner that not only is a different way, but I would go as far as saying a better way. Thanks again.”
- Pictorial imagining – What are your favorite pictorial images of staff and teachers who have made a difference in your life? In what organizations do I imagine myself participating in?
- Diagrammatic imagining – mental maps and diagrams; close your eyes and visualize the floor of your classes and routes you have taken to school or use this technique to take notes.
- Hypothetical – What if I can take all of my classes on-line? What about credit-by-exam or by experience? “Academic coaching is designed to fit the needs of all credit students…..” p. 142 – Student Planner and Handbook – 2015-2016.
- Relaxation: Close your eyes and take three deep cleansing breaths. Now imagine that you are in a place where you have found relaxation and serenity in the past—what do you see around you? What are you hearing? What are you feeling? What are you smelling? Now just enjoy your serene place for a few minutes. When you feel refreshed, take another deep breath, and open your eyes. If you continue to practice this exercise once a day for several weeks, you will notice an increase in the vividness of your mental imagery. You will probably notice that this exercise, if practiced on a regular basis, will have a calming influence on you; it will help you “turn-off” the stream of verbal thoughts that constantly runs through your mind.
How beneficial it would be for instructors to begin class with a 2 minute relaxation exercise which would help students to be more relaxed, alert, and productive.
Finally, one of my favorite musicals of all time is the Man of La Mancha, 1972 directed by Arthur Hilles and music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion. I was teaching in high school at the time when La Mancha was performed by the students. The culmination of the musical was the beautiful, moving, and powerful song, “The Impossible Dream” which fueled my dedication to the art and profession of teaching. Don Quixote is an impossible dreamer, a perceived misfit, and a foolish man who chases windmills. Aldonza ( Dulcinea ) asks what he means by “following the quest” which prompts him to sing the Impossible Dream which could well be the theme song for “Dream: Learn It. Live It.”
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.
Finally, on page 147 of the Student Planner and Handbook we read:
“Dream Advising is available for those who need assistance with programs of study, program qualifications, course content, course selection……and transferability of courses to and from NWTC, career goal exploration, and graduation.”