The Role of Mental Imagery in Imaginative and Ecological Teaching
By Gillian Judson
This article explores how mental imagery evoked from words might enhance the learning of cross-curricular content and how it may help cultivate students’ ecological understanding: that deep sense of connection to a living world and the care and concern to live differently within it. With reference to Elliott Eisner’s and Kieran Egan’s works, I offer a rationale for attending more fully to mental imagery in teaching. The article concludes with a discussion of pedagogical implications for more meaningful and engaging school experiences based on students’ and teachers’ imaginative engagement with curricular
A New Approach to Ecological Education
Gillian Judson’s book, A New Approach to Imaginative Ecological Education: Engaging Students’ Imaginations in Their World, published by Peter Lang, New York. Gillian is one of the directors of the IERG and is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University. The book offers a major critique of current ecological education programs, and offers an imaginative alternative.
Synopsis: Ecological education is becoming a major area of interest worldwide, and schools are increasingly being called upon to address global and local ecological concerns. Unfortunately, most teachers have limited or no training in the knowledge and skills required to support their students’ sense of connection to the natural world. Moreover, they have been trained to teach in ways that often marginalize the imagination in learning. This book illustrates how imagination and the development of ecological understanding are closely connected. It offers teachers a practical guide to teaching in ecological and imaginative ways – needed support to establishing more ecologically-oriented education in all classrooms. As imagination takes a central position in schools, all teaching and learning can improve as a result.
Read the introduction to the book
More On IEE Theory, Research & Curriculum Developments From Our Team:
Blenkinsop, S. (2014). In Search of the Eco-Teacher: Public School Edition. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 19 (1), 145-159.
- This article explores some of characteristics and skills needed to be an eco-imaginative teacher in a public school setting. These skills are not part of regular teacher training.
Blenkinsop, S. (2013). Feature Article: An educational project for cultural change: Towards a place-based, imaginative, ecological ‘school’. Education in the North, 20 (Special Issue), 116-119.
- This article is a short description of the Maple Ridge Environmental School after its first year of existence.
Blenkinsop, S. (2013). Six Actions we can take towards a more Ecological, Holistic and Imaginative Education. International Journal of Holistic Education, 1 (1), 33-55.
- This article explores 6 key components necessary for an eco-imaginative education.
Blenkinsop, S. (2012). Four Slogans for Cultural Change: An Evolving Place-based,
Imaginative, and Ecological Learning Experience. Journal of Moral Education, 41 (3), 353-368.
- This article explores some of the challenges, moral implications, and key lynch-pins for supporting change at the Maple Ridge Environmental School.
Blenkinsop S., Fettes, M. & Kentel, J. (2014). Dark Matters: Turning Toward the Untouched, the Unheard, and the Unseen in Environmental Education. Canadian Journal Environmental Education, 19 (1), 5-17.
- This article tries to point out some of the areas in need of further research.
Blenkinsop, S. & Judson, G. (2010). Storying environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 15 (1), 174-189.
- This article is a “story” about the role of story in environmental education currently and its potential to contribute to student learning and engagement.
Blenkinsop, S. & Piersol, L. (2013). Listening to the Literal: Orientations Towards
How Nature Communicates. Phenomenology and Practice, 7(1), 41-60. http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/index.php?action=tocs&journalID=30103
- This article arising out research done with several students at the Maple Ridge Environmental School explores some of the ontological implications of this work as students are clearing turning towards and listening to the natural world.
Derby, M. (2015) Place, Being, Resonance: A Critical Ecohermeneutic Approach to Education. New York: Peter Lang. http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=81084
Derby, M., Piersol, L & Blenkinsop, S. (published online Jan 26th, 2015) Refusing to settle for pigeons and parks: urban environmental education in the age of neoliberalism. Environmental Education Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2014.994166
- This article troubles some of the easy assumptions surrounding environmental teaching in urban settings.
Derby, M., Blenkinsop, S., Piersol, L, Telford, J & M. Caulkins (2013). Towards Resonant, Imaginative Experiences in Ecological and Democratic Education. Democracy and Education, 21 (2), Article 10. Available at: http://democracyeducationjournal.org/home/vol21/iss2/10
- This article is a response to Fettes’s 2012 article: Imagination and Experience
Fettes, M. (2012). Imagination and experience: An Integrative Framework. Democracy and education, 21 (1), (pp1-11).
Fettes. M. (2011). Senses and sensibilities: Educating the somatic imagination. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 27(2), 114-129.
Fettes, M. & Judson, G. (2011) Imagination and the cognitive tools of place-making. Journal of Environmental Education, 42 (2), pp. 123-135.
- This article develops the notion of the place-making tool and how it may be incorporated into the teaching to fulfill mandated curriculum objectives and support student engagement in place.
Hadzigeorgiou, Y. et al. (2011). Teaching about the Importance of Trees: A Study With Young Children. Environmental Education Research, 17, 519-536.
- This study reports on the effectiveness of storytelling with young children. The story that children were told was based on Egan’s (1997) theory, and more specifically on the notion of “mythic understanding”. There is evidence that children can better understand and remember ideas embedded in the plot of the story, when compared with a traditional method. There is also evidence that such a story (structured around binary opposites, mystery, mental imagery and a sense of wonder) can have an effect on children’s intention to participate in a tree-planting activity, when a comparison was made with the control (traditional) group and even within the same (storytelling) group.
Hadzigeorgiou, Y., & Skoumios, M. (2013). The development of environmental awareness through school science: Problems and possibilities. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 8 (3).
- Discusses the problems inherent in the process of approaching the study of nature and the raising of environmental awareness through science, but also provides existing possibilities for doing so, among which is the power of storytelling, and more specifically the power of the story of the universe.
Haverluck, B. (2013) “ART & a NaTUre FUseD SociAL AcTiVISm *#~~!”
- A presentation made to the Manitoba Arts Council “Creative Roads” conference for professional artists who use the arts in working with schools and community groups, Winnipeg, Feb.21, 2013.
Jickling, B. (2009). Sitting on an old grey stone: Meditations on emotional Understanding. In M. Mckenzie, P. Hart, H. Bai, and B. Jickling (Eds.), Fields of green: restorying culture, environment, and education. Hampton Press: Cresskill, NJ, 163-173.
Jickling, B. (2004). Making Ethics an Everyday Activity: How Can We Reduce the Barriers? Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 9, 11-30.
Jickling, B., Lotz-Sisitka, H., O’Donoghue, R., Ogbuigwe, A. (2006). Environmental Education, Ethics, and Action: A Workbook to Get Started. Nairobi: UNEP.
Jickling, B., & Wals, A. E. J. (2008). Globalization and environmental education: Looking beyond sustainability and sustainable development. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40 (1), 1-21.
Judson, G. (Accepted). The Warp & Weft Of Imaginative Ecological Education (IEE): Teaching That Interweaves Curricular Topics, Human Emotion, The Body, & Place. Green Teacher.
- This article describes the principles of IEE—Feeling, Activeness, and Place—through the metaphor of teaching as weaving.
Judson, G. (2015). Re-Imagining sustainability education: Emotional and imaginative engagement in learning. In F. Kagawa & D. Selby (Eds.) Sustainability frontiers: Critical and transformative voices from the borderlands of sustainability education (pp. 205-220). Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich Publishers.
- This book chapter considers what might be missing from the field of Education for Sustainability (EfS). It suggests that if we want to support ecological understanding, we should pay much more pedagogical attention to sustaining wonder in education.
Judson, G. (2015). Supporting ecological understanding through imaginative and in-depth study of a place-based topic or issue. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 20.
- This article indicates the pedagogical value of in-depth learning for ecological understanding and how this kind of learning can happen for students.
Judson, G. (2014). The role of mental imagery in imaginative and ecological teaching. Canadian Journal of Education, 37 (4), pp. 1-17. (*Direct link to article provided above)
Judson, G. (2012) A brief guide to Imaginative Ecological Education. (Available here: www.ierg.ca/IEE)
- This guide offers a quick look at the basic features of an imaginative and ecological approach to education.
Judson, G. (2012). Engaging students’ imaginations in their world: Some features of imaginative ecological education. Canadian Association of Principals, Spring 2012, pp. 26-27.
- This article offers a brief overview of the role imagination can and should play in an ecological approach to education.
Judson, G. (2010). Imaginative Ecological Education. In T. Nielson, R. Fitzgerald, & M. Fettes (Eds.), Imagination and Education: Imaginative practice, imaginative inquiry (pp. 272-292). Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- This book chapter gives a brief synopsis of the main principles of IEE including the discussion of specific examples.
Judson, G. (2010). Imagination in mind: Educating for ecological literacy. Seminar Series Paper 198 (September 2010). Melbourne: Centre for Strategic Education.
- This monograph considers the nature of ecological literacy and how we might more effectively develop it in schools. Examples are provided.
Piersol, L. (2014). Listening place. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 17 (2), 43-53.
- This study aimed to explore the relationship to place that exists amongst members of a university education research team. The principle questions that guided the study were: What lessons can be learned from a space of ‘deep listening’ in place? And what might this offer to our lived experiences and understandings of outdoor and ecological education? Six themes emerged from the interviews based on what the participants deemed to be important in the process of listening to place and strengthening ecological relations. This paper explores each theme and shares possible implications for the field of outdoor education.
Piersol, L. (2013). Our hearts leap up: Awakening wonder within the classroom. In A. Cant, K. Egan, and G. Judson (Eds.) Wonder-full education: The centrality of wonder to science, mathematics, humanities, and arts teaching. (Routledge: New York.)
- Ever heard of a pseudoscorpion? They exist under your feet right now! Did you know that the organisms in a handful of soil outnumber the amount of people on this planet? Find out more in this paper which argues that ‘wonder’ is an essential pedagogical tool with the potential to open up new ways of knowing and being in the world.
Piersol, L. (2011). Storytelling with Shannon Stewart, a Vancouver poet, Cleveland Elementary
- In March 2011, local poet Shannon Stewart and ecological educator Laura Piersol teamed up to do an ecological storytelling residency in Cleveland Elementary School in North Vancouver. Check out this blog to explore the unique and imaginative literary works the students produced as they were encouraged to wonder and wander in their local wild spaces. http://whatplaceisthis.wordpress.com/