Imagination: “Authors of Our Own Stories or Stuckness?”

I really appreciated the reading for this week, Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon really spoke to us social scientists (well I am speaking for myself, I just really enjoyed their document as a social scientist and as a learner as well).  This idea of “Killing of imagination” is so true. Last semester I had a paper to write, the instructor encouraged us to be creative with the paper, we read narratives and poetry the week prior to the paper to inspire us and get ideas.  That paper was so difficult for me to start. Prior to grad school I prided my self in my narrative writing skills and “fluffy” writing concept (as a professor I had in undergrad once told me). But graduate school had conditioned me so much to “scientifically” write straightforward, “get straight to the point”, “no need for all these extra words”,”cite, don’t forget to cite properly” writing that this task that I use to love so much to free flow write was extremely difficult for me to at least start. I thought about it for a week, I sat in front of my computer for hours, nothing. Then I started and it all came back, it was just pouring out on my keyboard, it felt so good to let my imagination and creativity guide my writing. I thanked the instructor after turning in my paper, I told her it was difficult for me to start but as I my imagination shifted into gear I could not stop. Looking back I ask myself “What caused that block?” as mentioned before I once prided myself on the words I was able to put together to describe scenes in my head…my imagination had been kilt as I adapted to the way things are supposed to be, written and read in graduate school.

This brings me to the discussion that we had last week. Someone mentioned that she had never heard the phrase “This is just how it has been done for years” until she came here.  As a society I do have to say we have been conditioned and fixed to operate a certain way..”for years” or “years it has been done” without using our imagination. The reading touched on this concept as well the conditioning of to just operate in the way it is and has been done for years with out using our imagination. I also noticed it earlier. My childhood consisted of barbies, I collected them as well. I had the barbie car, the barbie dream house, the grocery store, the tour bus, the Spice Girl barbie, Pocahontas barbie, anything Barbie in the 90s you name it I had it! (still do). Came up with the best stories to play with them as well, my imagination as a child has great! My barbies had the best adventures, I do have to say so myself!

When went back home this summer and explored all the bins that stored my barbies for all these years and as I attempted to play with them and use my imagination to come up with the great adventures to take my barbies on as a 24 year old adult I couldn’t, it was hard I gave up and put them away. Something I once loved, all the stories, games and adventures my mind was able to create as a child was no longer able to do so. As I read the Imagination First document and the  “either you have it or you don’t” discussion I could not help to think of this experience and at the time I definitely felt like I did not have my imagination that day. The authors state that “the challenge is how to increase the potency and reach of the imagination”. As  learners and instructors this piece really encouraged the students use of imagination. With all this said and after reading this document it all makes sense! As instructors we should challenge our selves and our students to tap in or back into those imaginative spaces.

This also reminded me of the movie Hook with Robin Williams. Last year, someone really wanted me to watch it because I would really enjoy it do to my “imagination” and sense of humor. Long story short if you haven’t seen the movie Peter (Robin Williams) goes back to Never Land as an adult and has to use his imagination to see and even eat the things in Never Land. In one scene Peter is watching the Lost Boys were “eating” Peter couldn’t eat and see the food unless he used his imagination. Peter did he pushed his self to use his imagination and he did he saw the food, he ate, he tasted it and even started throwing it around and caused a food fight and the Lost Boys screamed “YOU’RE DOING IT! YOU’RE USING YOUR IMAGINATION!”

That same someone that told me to watch this movie and particularly this part of the movie told me “Take your imagination to the moon” “share everything you’re learning with others” and that is what I plan to do.

“To see oneself as pursuing a purpose and following a call, rather than merely going through the motion, is itself an act of imagination” pg.35  (act of reflection in action) -fighting the fear of what if

“Why imagination? Because without it, education is utterly empty” pg.30


8 Replies to “Imagination: “Authors of Our Own Stories or Stuckness?””

  1. I’m glad that you reminded me that someone said last week they never heard the phrase, “This is just how it has been done for years.” My field of engineering (Human Factors) is at the intersection of engineering and social science. They drill into us from the start, “the most dangerous phrase in the world is, this is how we have always done it.”

    I agree we should challenge ourselves and our students to be imaginative and innovative, however, our current paradigm is at odds with these ideals (re: standardized assessments, shared rubrics, and teaching “for the test”)

    Do we take our imaginations to the moon in our current system? Develop a new utopian system? Or do we compromise and find some common ground content with our imaginations orbiting around the Earth?

    1. Maybe we do need to find some common ground by taking our imagination to the moon and back! lol but I will find you Wednesday because I can not figure this thing out!

  2. Jariah, if you think your imagination has been stifled by your grad school technical writing experience, I encourage you to get a 4 year engineering degree. I entered undergrad a so-called ‘creative genius’, lauded by my photo/video-graphy teachers, english/creative writing teachers, and other mentors for my creative outlets (such as singing, dancing etc.). Slowly as I had less and less time, and frankly, the creative energy, to devote to my passions, I realized that the conformity of an engineering education does wonders to remove all forms of original thought, and replaces it with rigid rote equation memorization and algorithmic problem solving. I feel for you, but you have to devote time to finding your voice again, on your own. This is one of the greatest challenges of a graduate education; not letting it extinguish the creative flame burning inside that brought you here to begin with!

  3. Here here! You do have to imagine it first! Or at least the imagine the possibility of something you haven’t yet made, or done or known. I bet your Barbies were really bummed when you told them they wouldn’t be going on adventures any more.

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