Nelson & Imagination


When I was a little girl, nap time was a crucial part of the early school experience. Little children, after all, needed their rest. On one occasion, however, a friend and I were right in the middle of building an amusement park with blocks. We moved our small hands as delicately, but swiftly, as possible, knowing that nap time was soon approaching.

And there it was. Cots lay stretched out before us; it was nap time. But something marvelous happened. Our teacher allowed us to forgo nap time and finish our amusement park. I can’t remember if we asked to work through nap time or if she offered us the option—either way, we continued to build. I often recall this occurrence when I’m considering a visit to the craft store (remember when you were a nap-time architect—of course you can build a miniature cottage out of clothes pins!*). I recalled the story today because of Nelson’s points about imagination. Even when people do not encourage imagination in children, they usually accept it. Can we say the same thing about imagination in adults?

When I consider computers in higher education classrooms, I wonder what would happen if we asked students to imagine what computers could do? If a student brought a tablet or laptop to class, what would happen if the professor inquired, “What do you wish this device could do for you/find for you in this [English, Education, History, Science, you name it] class?” Are our educational structures ready for the messiness, disruption, and loveliness that can come with imagining a new way to educate or imagining a new way to conduct research? The oceanic mind and imagination are inextricably connected.

*In case you are wondering, I decided to build the miniature cottage out of clothes pins. It leans a little…but so does the Tower of Pisa.

One thought on “Nelson & Imagination

  1. A wonderful story.

    That “oceanic mind” idea opens things up in fascinating ways. My student’s post really inspired me–and broke my heart. We must help our learners keep their own oceanic minds in view even as we help them become focused and effective learners. We must never lose sight of that horizon.


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