IERG News & Updates December 2015

IERG News & Updates is our way to keep you informed about some IERG activities worldwide. You will find examples of Imaginative Education in action, interviews with practitioners, as well as short pieces describing our different programs, publications, and events.

We welcome your feedback, and as always, please feel free to share this with your colleagues and students, so that everyone can stay connected.

Enjoy our 5th edition!


Spotlight on 2015 MEd graduate: Ryan Hughes

Spotlight on IE students (MEd and Diploma)

LiD Update

IE in Mexico: Update


October 23, 2015 ProD Day Success!

This year’s ProD day event for teachers was a huge success! Over 120 teachers and teachers-in-training had a chance participate in a jam-packed day of interactive and experiential sessions led by IE experts. Our IE presenters shared how their cognitive tools-shaped lessons can engage students from primary through secondary school in all subject areas. There were workshops on Learning in Depth, Whole School Projects and Imaginative Ecological Education as well as hands-on opportunities for participants to do some IE planning. There was great food—and very small serving utensils. Thank you to the staff and administration of KB Woodward for hosting our conference and thank you to all our attendees for their passion for teaching and learning!

NEW Book on Imaginative Education by Dr. Kieran Egan and Dr. Gillian Judson (Teachers College Press)

A new introduction to Imaginative Education, written by Kieran Egan & Gillian Judson. Due to be published soon by Teachers College Press. Read more …

LiD in Maple Ridge: Jocelyn McIntosh, a Simon Fraser University grad and B.C. teacher for the past 10 years was recently interviewed by the Maple Ridge News on the Learning In Depth (LiD) program. Read more …

11th IERG International Conference 2016


Submit your proposal today!


Imaginative Ecological Education (IEE) Meets Education For Sustainability (ESD) in Hecla, Manitoba October 7-9, 2015.

Gillian Judson led a 3-day workshop series in Hecla Manitoba this October on the principles and practices of Imaginative Ecological Education. The weather was beautiful and the location truly stunning. (Hecla is an island resort on Lake Winnipeg—She didn’t realize that Lake Winnipeg is so big that it has its own tides. She also discovered—when she was out exploring—that the shores are covered in stones perfect for skipping.)  She worked in and outside with educational leaders from the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba demonstrating how to learn from and with Place and how to centralize imaginative engagement in learning for all students.

Dr. Laurie Anderson To Santiago, Chile

Dr. Laurie Anderson is an Associate Director of the IERG and delivered a keynote address on “Using our Imaginations” at a conference on Changes and Innovation in Education at the University of Finis Terra in Santiago, Chile. Read more …

LiD at Naeri Elementary School, Pusan, Korea

The LiD Program began in June 2015 at Naeri Elementary School ( in Pusan, Korea. A total of 149 students in the school, from Grades 1 through Grade 6 are participating. Please click here to see images of these LiD kids at work. See, in particular, a few students’ work on the topic of mushrooms. Kids and teachers are enjoying LiD!


Imaginative Ecological Education Resource in BC book world magazine.

Minutes from a NIET meeting

niet As the sun set, turning SFU Surrey’s glass façade into a sparkling display of shifting lights, 11 harried and hurried Imaginative Education (IE) teachers added 2 hours to their day to discuss the new curriculum. What a splendid way to spend the evening hours!

The consensus was that the new curriculum being implemented in BC actually fits very well with the principles of IE. There are many references to ‘sustained learning on a chosen topic’ (LiD); wonder and engagement appear frequently in the Science curriculum and the move to more ‘big ideas’ and away from prescribed learning outcomes was welcomed by IE teachers. However, we recognize that many other teachers are uncomfortable with the less prescriptive format and greater freedom to choose learning activities.

We then broke into 2 smaller groups – the LiD group and the Mythic Tools group. Teachers who needed clarification or help with planning their activities benefitted from the small group discussions. One of the issues raised in the Mythic group was that of non-readers in Grade 5 and beyond, which inhibits the transition from Mythic Tools to Romantic Tools.

New information about the Danish graphic designer, Christian Boer, was shared. He has designed a new font that makes it easier for dyslexic people to distinguish between similar letters He himself is dyslexic and therefore has the emotional engagement to find such a seemingly simple solution to a devastating problem.

The meeting ended at 6:30 pm with everyone going away feeling refreshed and enthusiastic about their teaching practice.

Spotlight on 2015 MEd graduate: Ryan Hughes

What is your teaching assignment like?  

Ryan HughesFor the past eight years I have worked in Richmond, teaching Grades 4 through 7. This year, I have decided to work closer to home, TTOCing in Maple Ridge and Langley School Districts and spending more time with my family. I am passionate about teaching all ages, though my experience has mostly been with intermediate (romantic thinking) students.

How would you characterize what it is like being an imaginative educator?

Exhilarating. Before I began my journey through the Imaginative Education Masters program, I always felt that there was something missing in my teaching practice. No matter how much I tried to learn new and different programs, I always felt that my students were not as excited about learning as they could be. Imaginative Education gives me a different perspective.

How has your IE approach to teaching changed your students’ learning experiences?

By honouring the importance of emotional engagement and utilizing the cognitive tools, I find my students learn more passionately and remember what they have learned. I am still trying to use and incorporate IE more fully into my practice and hope to see even better learning moments.

Do you have an anecdote or favourite lesson you could share?

My students love hearing me tell stories. I can tell that I have their full emotional attention, when they are sitting on the edge of their seats, leaning in to hear what will happen next. This doesn’t always happen but when the story has a certain rhythm and sense of tension, I can see genuine interest in their eyes.

Spotlight on IE students:

Mark Maretic – IE MEd Student, Simon Fraser University; BC Teacher

My name is Mark Maretic and I teach at Guildford Learning Centre in Surrey, BC.

MarkMareticI started taking an interest in the art of teaching through soccer, actually; I coached soccer in my late teens and early twenties and enjoyed it so much that I started looking into teaching programs. I worked in mainstream high schools for 4 years, and have now worked in the Alternative Education setting for 17 years now.

As a high school student, I struggled in school due to a lack of motivation and interest. I felt the “system” misidentified me and put me in a stream where my potential was largely untapped. When I decided to pursue a degree in Education, I wanted to make sure others similar to me wouldn’t have to go through the same experience I had. And now, pursuing my Master’s degree in Education, I’m still striving to improve that student experience.

What I like about IE is how some of the Kinds of Understanding really connect to my students’ interests and abilities. My current focus is on how IE can enhance Portfolio-based Instruction and Assessment. My hope for this program is that I/we can expose the wider teaching community to the beauty of Imaginative Education. My greatest fear is forgetting all the instructor information and student ideas generated in our IE Master’s class, but with my passion to enhance student learning, the “tools” I gather through IE will never be lost.

Karen Gessey IE Diploma Student, Simon Fraser University; BC Teacher

Karen GesseyMy name is Karen Gessey and I have been teaching for 25 years in the District of Surrey as an intermediate teacher. I am currently at Hazelgrove Elementary teaching Grade Five. Even as a young child I knew I wanted to become a teacher for my career. My desire to have an impact on students and their outlook on life and learning has always been important to me. I experienced some truly wonderful teachers in high school that showed passion in their subject areas—especially my Grade Eleven English teacher who made Shakespeare and poetry come alive with meaning.

The IE approach to teaching has given me new ways to approach my teaching. I am learning how to combine cognitive tools into lessons and my implementation of the new BC curriculum. A combination of collaboration with colleagues and the use of the Romantic Understanding framework in my unit planning is helping me develop more meaningful strategies to teach concepts and ideas.

Currently I am working on developing a Math unit on the topic of Place Value using the Romantic Understanding framework. I have created a narrative based on the heroic qualities of accuracy and order. I incorporate these qualities into teaching how important it is that the decimal stay where it is between the tenths and ones! I have used extremes to compare large numbers in the world with the smallest numbers that can be found. The Guinness Book of World Records has been a terrific resource. In Science, I recently used metaphor and storytelling to teach the phases of the moon. Witnessing the students’ reactions of engagement during these lessons is encouraging and validating.

Wendy Johnston – IE MEd Student, Simon Fraser University; BC Teacher

I am Wendy Johnston and I teach, English, Humanities and Leadership at North Surrey Secondary (Surrey, BC). I became a teacher Wendy Johnstonbecause I am interested in the learning process and the idea of what it means for a person to be “smart”. Ideally, I wanted to give every one of my students the ability to demonstrate how he or she is “smart” and to interact with their world in a meaningful way.

I have just started exploring Imaginative Education in my Master of Education degree program at Simon Fraser University. I have started using the cognitive tools of abstract binary opposites and heroic qualities, which lend themselves so perfectly to both my students’ imaginative lives and to the content of the Humanities curriculum. I am excited to create a sense of awe in my students as part of their learning and to help them become passionate about why art, literature, history and society are important and fascinating!


Q: Why did the chicken cross the mobius strip?
A: To get to the same side.

IE in Mexico: Update from Ms. Carolina López

Carolina Lopez

Our team from IE Mexico’s Network has been working on proposals for teacher training programs and implementation projects for several institutions across the country. Some of these institutions are: Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Anahuac University, Regional Centre for Teachers Education and Educational Research of Sonora, and National Pedagogical University. These connections have resulted from IE workshops led by our Chilean and Mexican colleagues during the summer of 2014 and 2015. In addition, our growing community of educators interested in Imaginative Education in Mexico is planning to host a first national conference on Imagination in Education by April, 2016. At this conference our aim is to spread, share and promote knowledge and experiences based on the principles and practices of Imaginative Education.

How LiD Connects to Curriculum Topics

How LiD Connects to Curriculum Topics in Ms. Cowan’s Classroom

By: Olwen Cowan, MACC teacher at Capitol Hill, Burnaby BC

elfolwenI once heard a very wise man say, “Anything can be wonderful if you know enough about it.” That fellow was Kieran Egan as he was making the case for his Learning in Depth (LiD) program. I scribbled those words into my notebook. I often go back to them as a reminder.  LiD has reinvigorated my teaching. It has helped me draw deeper connections with my students. It has allowed the children in my 4/5 class to take ownership over something that is their very own. Our class has found the connections to LiD in many aspects of our daily learning life together.

On Halloween students were asked to find a connection between their Halloween costume and their LiD topics. A girl (whose LiD topic is water) was dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West. After some thought she said, “Well, water makes the Wicked Witch of the West melt so I guess I’m allergic to myself.” A boy (whose LiD topic is castles) was dressed as a ninja. He said his connection was easy, “Ninjas attack castles. Done.” Another student (whose LiD topic is cooking) was dressed as an American tourist in Hawaii. She said this: “Tourists like to eat all the food and then try to make it when back from vacation.” The most obvious connection was the student dressed as an astronaut. His topic is the solar system. He basically just twirled on the spot. Ta-dah!

LiD can be very coy. It finds its way into our clothing. For example, one girl (whose LiD topic is dogs) wore a shirt with her topic on it. Personally, I try to wear “big top colours” on LiD day; my topic is the circus. I’m still looking for a top hat that’s sparkly enough.

Another child in my class (whose topic is money) has created a class bank. Her bank is connected to a point system in which children can “purchase” items. She writes on our blog, “You might have heard that we have a class bank and it connects to my LiD topic, money! I was thinking about opening it soon and it opened on Friday! For further information keep checking our blog and our twitter account”.

Children in the classroom often can’t wait until Friday. We have LiD on Friday mornings until recess (roughly one and a half hours per week). One day I came into the classroom after recess to find a spontaneous peaceful protest was taking place. Children were demanding to extend LiD time. Really, isn’t this what every teacher wants?