Podcast 322 – Re-Frame Creativity with Imagination and Fantasy

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.

Lloyd Alexander

mark_vector_1400x1400For a long time psychologists, educators and parents alike have assumed that imaginative play was most useful for learning when set in as realistic situation as possible. However, is “real” always better than “imaginative” when it comes to the learning landscape?

Many have a fear that learning about or at the very least not clearly distinguishing between fantasy and reality can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions. This assumption underestimates the importance and value of one of David Sobel’s nature principles, imagination and fantasy, in play. It turns out this may also be, according to research, contradictory to the nature of child development. It’s time we re-frame creativity with imagination and fantasy.

New research presented in the article ,” Fantasy Advantage by Deena Weisberg published in Scientific American Mind March/April 2016 edition supports the idea that imagination and fantasy may actually improve children’s learning outcomes. In several studies that focused on traditional educational subjects like language arts (vocabulary development) and science, those children who learned though a fantastical (sometimes even a magical) lens that included stories and dramatic play where more likely to develop:

  1. Deeper understanding of the topic
  2. Increased sense of curiosity and purpose for continuing learning and
  3. Ability to transfer ideas more creatively to address problems in reality

Integrating and valuing fantasy and imagination into the learning landscape can help cultivate a mindset of not either or, but both and more. The seemingly contrasting experiences between the fantasy and our understanding of how the world does and does not work actually highlights and clarifies the structure of the real world for young children. Moreover, imaginative thinking is crucial for understanding complex or abstract ideas like “Earth’s natural internet,” new scientific theories like meaning of life or the place and space in learning where physics and philosophy meet.

Perhaps it is time we remember what we once knew, but have forgotten by integrating ancestral knowledge that has traditionally been passed down to younger generations through what we now call myths, legends, folklore, nursery rhymes and fantastical storytelling.

In this show we cover:

    • Fantasy Advantage
    • Re-framing Creativity
    • Imagination and Fantasy in the Learning Landscape
    • Breaking Out of the Dichotomy of ‘If Not This, Than That’
    • What Needs Does Nature Provide for Us?

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References and Resources

Living Earth Games
Spoutwood Farm Fairie Festival
Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence
Chesapeake Herb Gathering

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Thank you Liz West for the featured image titled “What are you doing here?” (CC BY 2.0)


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