Imagination Circle spotlight of the month

In March 2020, when schools had closed in most countries and people everywhere were searching for new ways to live, learn and work together in a world locked down by a global pandemic, Morna McNulty started asking her students to reimagine school.

Morna is an arts and education specialist teaching at Towson University in Maryland, USA. Over several months, she put 100+ students to work designing a new kind of public school for the Covid-19 world and beyond. 

The project (Re)Imagining Schools: Voices from the University Students asked students in Morna’s urban education class to “rethink the role the design of schooling has on the values of schooling.” They were to let their imagination run free, using film, photo, graphic design, collage, music, theatre and visual arts for their designs. One student even used cookies and m&m’s 🙂

The students’ responses were, according to Morna, “unexpected and curious.” 

What new school designs did they propose? Find out in this recording as Morna discusses the project in last week’s Imagination Circle session. And she goes deeper into the findings in this paper.

So Morna asked herself some questions. What do students value in school, especially during a pandemic? What elements of school do we keep when we redesign? And do we imagine differently when the world is open to us than when we’re in the grip of a pandemic?

Last Wednesday’s session landed on a new question—What if university students were asked to bring to life the imaginative designs of young children about school and learning? 

What happened in our April Imagination Circle session?

we talked about the immense imaginative capacity of young children, and Imagination Circle participants have shared some fascinating work, for example Mycelia Messages (Georgia Yiapanis) and School of the (Im)Possible (Francine Kliemann).

The idea of young children bringing their imagination to the designs of university students has opened up a space of potential collaboration across our community on a new iteration of Morna’s project, which could lead to an Imagination Circle submission to this conference in Helsinki next January (see below).

Thanks to Morna for sharing work, opportunities and energy with us. Please reach out to her at[email protected]to learn more about her work and her idea for a joint conference submission.

Co-design: What is growing out of the Imagination Circle so far?

Last week we also had a co-design session looking at these questions together:

  • What have we harvested in the Imagination Circle so far? Where can we see emergence?
  • What avenues should we explore further?
  • What can help us to get there?

And we shared stories about what’s been firing our imagination. Stories, questions, discussion points and more are in this recording, and you can add your thoughts on the questions in this Google document.

Opportunity: The Imagination Circle at the 7th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry in Helsinki in January?

Could we see an Imagination Circle panel at this conference next January? 

The theme of the conference is Participation, Collaboration and Co-Creation: Qualitative Inquiry Across and Beyond Borders. This aligns with some of the threads coming out of the Imagination Circle sessions. 

Morna’s idea is for the Imagination Circle to propose a panel session on reimagining schools and have members of our community share their projects at the conference. She is already exploring this with others in the Circle and would be keen to lead the co-development of a panel proposal. 

Keen to explore? Please let us know.

Opportunity: 4 IMAGI-NATION {Embassies}, 10,000 Imagination Classrooms

One of the goals of the Imagination Circle is to centre imagination in every classroom. So we’re on a mission to see 10,000 Imagination Classrooms in schools around the world in the next 10 years.

To help do this: IMAGI-NATION {Embassies}, repurposed vehicles bringing imagination experiences to schools and communities around the world and giving school students the chance to tell us what an Imagination Classroom could be and create one in their school.

What is an Imagination Classroom? We don’t know; let’s build one. How? We don’t know; let’s try.” Find out more here.

The first IMAGI-NATION {Embassy} is already on the road in Australia. We’re aiming for 4 more {Embassies} moving across the US, Europe and Africa this year to help us get to 10,000 Imagination Classrooms around the world in the next 10 years.

  • Know a school where an Imagination Classroom could come to life? Let us know who they are. 
  • Want to learn from students what an Imagination Classroom could be? Ask them and tell us what they say.
  • Want to co-design and co-fund the {Embassies} with us for the US, Europe and Africa? Or know people who could? Let us know.

Save the date: Forest of Imagination, 14 June to 14 July

Let’s ‘assemble in the forest’! Forest of Imagination is happening in Bath, UK, next month and we are all invited.

This is an annual offering of ‘spaces for liberated learning’ throughout the city of Bath co-designed and co-created by communities, schools, students, creatives and many others, with Penny Hay and Andrew Amondson.

If you missed our March sessions where Penny and Andrew introduced Forest of Imagination, you can catch up here: session 1session 2.

Hope to see you in the Forest.

Save the date: Next Imagination Circle community session: Wednesday 14 June

Our next community gathering is set for Wednesday 14 June (first day of Forest of Imagination!) at 10-11am CEST and 4-5pm CEST.

In the 10:00-11:00 am session, we’ll have Dr. Anthony McKnight from the University of Wollongong sharing about the Sparking Imagination Education research project that’s just kicking off in Australia. The research will look at Indigenous cultural imagination practices and how they can inform design of an Imagination Education Pedagogic Framework for schools in Australia.

We’ll be sending invitations next week; please check your calendars and accept the invitation to the session that works best for your timezone. You’re very welcome  to drop into both sessions if you can.

And to close…

Looking for resources? 
To gather existing summaries of sessions and updates of the initiative, we have created the Imagination Circle Project page here

Want to share resources or opportunities?

Please let the Imagination Circle community know about interesting resources or opportunities using this form.

Someone working with imagination who you’d love to see in the Circle?
Here’s a form for them to express their interest. (If you haven’t already, please feel free to fill in the form too.)

Thank you for building with us.