In chapter seven of Teaching Children to Draw, the Wilsons address the task of “Encouraging Imagination and Fantasy.” Personally, I feel this is one of the most important skills we can teach in art education. Only a percentage of students will go on to pursue art as a career or even a hobby, but everyone can benefit from learning to be imaginative. Imagination isn’t something that gets taught, as much as it gets fostered. A student has to be given the opportunity to exercise their imagination – through a flexible classroom structure, problem-solving activities, and self-directed learning, among other open-ended possibilities.
The Wilson’s mentioned Richard De Mille’s Book Put Your Mother on the Ceiling, which is a great resource with imagination games for kids. Another book, which I am definitely going to purchase is Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner. In this book, he looks at case studies of innovative individuals, schools, and businesses and analyzes what has made them successful and how we can apply that information to teaching or parenting. Referring to our country’s performance in the global economy, he says “Our success is measured more or less by the rate of innovation.” More people need to consider this fact before allowing art programs to be cut from public schools. Watch the trailer for the book below.