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Gillian Judson @perfinker

Gillian Judson @perfinker

Dr. Gillian Judson (@perfinker) is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in B.C., Canada, one of the directors of the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG), and coordinator of the Imaginative Ecological Education (IEE) program.  Her research and teaching is primarily concerned with the role of imagination in all learning.  She also investigates how an ecologically sensitive and imaginative approach to education can both increase students’ engagement with, and understanding of, the content of the curriculum but can show it in a light that can lead to a sophisticated ecological consciousness. 

She is author of the books Engaging Imagination in Ecological Education:  Practical Strategies For Teaching (Pacific Educational Press, 2015) and A New Approach to Ecological Education:  Engaging Students’ Imaginations in Their World (New York:  Peter Lang; 2010), and co-author of the book Imagination and the Engaged Learner: Cognitive Tools for the Classroom. (New York: Teachers’ College Press; in press).  She has also edited the book Teaching 360°: Effective Learning Through The Imagination (Rotterdam: Sense Publishing, 2008) and co-edited the books Engaging Imagination and Developing Creativity in Education (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press; 2015) and Wonder-Full Education:  The Centrality of Wonder (New York: Routledge; 2013).

Learn all about imagination-focused practices (K-post secondary) at imaginED: education that inspires.









Posted by on in Professional Development

Earlier this year I connected with other educators who like to blog. We came together over #sunchat, a Twitter-based Sunday morning chat. We called ourselves the #Sunchatbloggers! We provide each other with feedback and encouragement. Someone in the group suggested we all post on the same topic: our “Top 5”.  Some people will post about strategies, others activities, others technologies—I’ve decided to focus on “needs”. 

What are my 5 “essentials” for effective teaching? What do I need to teach?

After much reflection, I’ve identified my 5 teaching must-haves:


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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

The world is full of heroes.

Some of our heroes are people that exemplify qualities such as ingenuity, flexibility, agility, determination, or reliability. For example, we are impressed by the extraordinary speed and strength of basketball player Lebron James, or the extraordinary agility and accuracy of soccer player Lionel Messi. We are awestruck by the perceptiveness and intelligence of scientist Marie Curie. We admire the bravery of Rosa Parks or Amelia Earhart. We note the selflessness of Mother Theresa. These people all possess transcendent human qualities that we also possess. The difference, often, is that we hold the same qualities to a lesser degree. Sometimes the people we consider “heroes” are those that demonstrate in large measure qualities that we feel we lack.

But humans are not our only heroes. We also emotionally connect with institutions (the United Nations) or concepts (democracy) that exemplify values we believe in: justice, equality, freedom. We may admire the incredible abilities of different animal species as well. So by “hero” I am not refering to a testosterone-driven male figure but, rather, someone or something exemplifying an extraordinary human quality.

The curriculum is also full of heroes; every topic of the curriculum can be seen as heroic in some way.

You’ve probably noticed that many young people associate with heroes or idols. It is not unusual to see pictures of a rock star, artist, or actor plastered into lockers or onto bedroom walls. Our students can become quite fanatical about learning all there is to know about some athlete, actor, author, songwriter, or world leader. If our students are associating with heroes constantly in the world around them, shouldn’t we pay attention to this imaginative activity? Imaginative educators do; they bring out the heroic in the curriculum topics they teach.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Everyone loves a puzzle.

Imaginative educators pull their students in; they intrigue them. They puzzle them. Of course, leaving students puzzling doesn’t mean leaving them utterly confused. By "puzzling" I mean capturing students’ curiosity. Mystery intrigues us; it evokes emotion and imagination. An imaginative educator will model how learning about the world requires an inquiring spirit and a willingness to explore unfamiliar terrain. 


Dr. Kieran Egan suggests that one of the worst (aka:  imagination-dulling) things we can do in schools is present the curriculum topics we are teaching as fully “known”. (e.g. “Look students! Here is all you need to know about cell biology!” or “Here is Algebra—learn this and you know it all!”) Rather, we should present the world—and all our curriculum topics—as part of a great mystery and adventure.  We should identify the unknown. The sense of mystery–like other cognitive tools described in our Tools of Imagination Series–is a powerful support for learning.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

social media

My kids think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. I grew up without a cell phone. So, when I was away from home, I either didn't talk to anyone who wasn't with me (gasp) or I brought a quarter and used a pay phone. (What's that?) My first computer was practically the size of a smart car. I looked things up in books called encyclopaedias. I couldn't take a virtual tour of the MoMA from my sofa.  I could go on and on.  Life—such a cliché—was very different.

Nowadays, alerts, alarms, beeps, bleeps, tweets, nudges, and notifications are a part of life; they are our “normal”. Information travels at warp speed in a highly technological world—and we are constantly being notified about it. We live in a world of seemingly endless distractions. Those people who function best in this media mad world are those that live in a perpetual state of multi-tasking.

Here's the rub: nothing comes without a cost. It seems to me that our kids are missing out on important aspects of being and knowing if we do not explicitly balance out technological and cyber ways of learning with direct, body-based, and sensory types of learning experiences.

I wonder…

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Breaking News: Without suitable pedagogical intervention, more learners will suffer from a very serious condition called arteriosclerosis of the imagination. This often debilitating condition is marked by limited flexibility of thought, an undeveloped sense of wonder, and a reduced ability to envision the possible in all learning.

The primary cause? Rigid and restrictive learning processes and environments that exclude students' emotional engagement and that include out-dated conceptions of how human beings actually learn.

Imagination-focused pedagogy is the topic of this Tools of Imagination Series.  Our Tips for Imaginative Educators are powerful remedies for arteriosclerosis of the imagination. Here’s the latest.

#6 Laugh As You Learn

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