Today’s keynote was presented by Eleanor Duckworth who, according to the conference website: 

“…. is a former student and translator of Jean Piaget, Dr. Duckworth grounds her work in Piaget and Inhelder’s insights into the nature and development of understanding and in their research method, which she has developed as a teaching/research approach, Critical Exploration in the Classroom. She seeks to bring a Freirean approach to any classroom, valuing the learners’ experience and insights. Her interest is in the experiences of teaching and learning of people of all ages, both in and out of schools. Duckworth is a former elementary school teacher and has worked in curriculum development, teacher education, and program evaluation in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and her native Canada. She is a coordinator for Cambridge United for Justice with Peace, and is a performing modern dancer. “


The ideas that resonated with me are:

  •       “work at it, work at it” – you can’t make certain things happen (like thought, imagination, different ways of thinking) so you need to “go where they will find you”
  •       we must put learners into contact with the physical world
  •       students take their own learning seriously when there is someone there to talk to, listen to
  •       “critical exploration” within the classroom = long term in depth study/exploration by students over time
  •       accept all ideas from the students – it’s the teachers role to then take these ideas further and deeper – and the ideas can become more playful
  •       explore
  •       wonder
  •       question
  •       play ……… and surprising things will happen!
  •       encourage students to find the mysteries in the something ordinary
  •       a study of “something” – pose a question – explore, notice, share, question
  •       all ideas are open/equal/possible = truth is in the subject matter






I am currently in Vancouver, BC, attending the 7th International Conference on Imagination and Education where I have been introduced to the work of Dr Kieran Egan and the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG).

” Imaginative Education is an approach to education that effectively engages students’ emotions, imaginations and intellects in learning.

The Imaginative Education Research Group has developed theories, principles and practices designed to explain, describe and implement this approach.

Imaginative Education offers a new understanding of how knowledge grows in the mind, and how our imaginations work and change during our lives. The IERG has developed innovative teaching methods based on these insights that offer new ways of planning and teaching….”


The 2 day, pre-conference workshop, showed alternative ways of thinking about education and the different kinds of understandings that come into play as children grow and develop and make sense of their world.

Examples of classroom applications demonstrated what the approach look liked in action, and planning frameworks were shared and explained.

We then spent some time trying out the approach by playing a number of thinking games/activities and beginning to plan lessons using the  frameworks to encourage creative and imaginative ways to explore traditional topics and content.

There were lots of opportunities to share ideas and questions about IE and this was really important so that our early thoughts could be clarified as we contemplated incorporating this approach into our teaching toolkit.

Check out the IERG website for more info, research, examples, resources and lesson/unit ideas.