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[Xmca-l] Re: Heathcote and Immagination

Hi Susan

     I assume you noticed how I tried to be slightly ambiguous in my use of the word ‘theoretical’ so what you say is disappointing as I know many ‘good’ teachers who use imagination without really focusing on imagination as something in itself (it is something that is, for example, one ‘feeds,' but qua ‘feed’ what does that entail). That doesn’t detract from what they do, but makes it difficult to ‘talk’ (in the present and in the past) with them about their teaching. However, that doesn’t mean I cannot learn much from Heatcote (and you) and I thank you for making the book available.

    I cannot resist noting that the term ‘art’ is used in wider contexts than the usual although those that use art with a capital A usually resist (I remember a conversation where Maxine Greene basically said she wasn’t going to consider mathematics - smile). There is a interesting book by Corrandi Fiumara that argues, in a sense, that all disciplines are concerned with "emotions, ideas, and qualities of such" and I have always taken Alastair MacIntyre as making similar arguments in his discussion of practice. That is not to say that Art doesn’t have a particular role, but its ‘social’ characterization may be a little more complicated than it seems (there is an amusing - sort of - commentary on this on the web titled the Mathematician’s Lament). Thus I would hope that all, including Artists, would engage in the less socially standard arts. I always found it interesting that my colleagues who worked in the Arts were always intrigued by my interest in how they co-created instances that enabled "people to explore, externalise and share such through various crystallised means", but - except in one remembered instance - were a bit put-off at the idea I was engaged in similar work and it might usefully behove them to take an interest (smile).

Again, thank you for the conversation and thank you for the book.

> On Mar 1, 2016, at  4:54 PM, Susan Davis <s.davis@cqu.edu.au> wrote:
> Hi Ed 
> In response to some of your questions and reflections.
> As far as I know Heathcote did not theorise imagination extensively and
> certainly not in any published form.  She tended to write extensively, but
> not necessarily theoretically and often it has been colleagues and
> students of hers who have interpreted her work in various ways against
> theory.
> In terms of the role of art and imagination. Like Vygotsky I believe the
> arts do play a particular role, largely because the arts are primarily
> concerned with the emotions, ideas and qualities of such. Through various
> artistic forms, they also enable people to explore, externalise and share
> such through various crystallised means crystallise. And this is not
> confined to ‘artists’ everyone can engage in such activities and perhaps
> should do!
> Vygotsky said:
> Art is the social technique of emotion, a tool of society which brings
> the most intimate and personal aspects of our being into the circle of
> social
> life. (Vygotsky, 1971, p. 249)
> I would agree that in many collective drama processes the exercising of
> imagination is both conceptual and sensory and embodied and social … and
> that it is a constantly recurring imaginative/embodied experience.
> Imaginative ideas feed into the doing and the doing informs the developing
> imaginative ideas. I’m sure there’s probably theoretical work out there
> about that, as there is a lot of interest in ‘embodied’ learning emerging
> from dance and drama circles in recent times, though I can’t provide
> references off the top of my head.
> And in terms of Goffman, actually Heathcote drew upon Goffman’s work on
> framing to inform the different ways you might structure a dramatic
> encounter and as her colleague (and scholar) Gavin Bolton says what
> different framing can provide is the means to both protect ‘from’ but also
> ‘into’ emotional experiences (Bolton 1986). The framing would also enable
> certain imaginative possibilities and these would shift depending on the
> framing. The framing therefore provides some parameters and ‘tools’ as it
> were for the imaginative activity.  So for example if someone was framed
> in role as a reporter in a dramatic event, how they respond to the
> situation and what they create will be different to if they are framed as
> the protagonist of the event, or a casual observer.  So I guess this is an
> example also of what I was saying about ‘feeding’ the imagination.  That
> might also be done through bringing in different texts or objects that can
> act as what Cecily O’Neill called ‘pre-texts’ as the launching off
> materials for a drama.
> Cheers
> Sue
> On 2/03/2016 3:16 am, "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>> Hi Susan
>>    Thank you for the reply.
>>     Since I know little about Heathcote (although a fair amount about
>> ‘good’ teachers) I can only say that I agree with many of your quotes and
>> I find Vygotsky as one in a long line of thinkers who sees imagination as
>> integral making meaning (I have hedged here a bit as I want to include
>> other thinkers in conversations about imagination). I note, by the way,
>> you did not include my favorite quote (Imagination and Creativity in the
>> Adolescent, p163) on this matter from Vygotsky as it, for me, embodies a
>> lot about how I have been thinking about imagination: “From our point of
>> view the imagination is a transforming, creative activity directed from
>> the concrete towards a new concrete” - although this is certainly
>> captured in the quotes you give.
>>      In any case, what I found of most interest is what follows those
>> quotes of Vygotsky and what I assume is, in part, an
>> assessment/description of Heathcote’s stance. However, Heathcote viewed
>> Vygotsky (or whoever else she drew from) she seems to have been a ‘good’
>> teacher (I am talking about a comparative quality, but that would take me
>> to far afield here) and ‘good’ teachers translate what might be called
>> pristine theory into what might be called messy practice. In some writing
>> I’m doing I been looking for some careful description of a teacher’s
>> doings who, perhaps, one might say has spent some time attempting to
>> “feed” imagination (this is your word so I’m not entirely sure what is
>> meant) and seems to recognize that certain imaginations can and should be
>> ‘stabilized’ or one might say ‘verified.’ There seems, in interesting
>> cases that I am thinking about, to be sort of a hybrid
>> sensory-imagination (teacher, peers, materials, etc) transforming
>> though imagination (perhaps individual) to sort of a hybrid
>> reasoning-imagination (teacher, peers, materials, etc). From my
>> perspective I see, in your description of Heathcote, her doing something
>> like this and your indication that students are allowed to sit out is, it
>> seems, a sort of confirmation. It is not that I don’t know other teachers
>> who act like Heathcote (every discipline contains such and there is
>> nothing unique about ‘art' per se from a certain perspective on teaching
>> - I am fine with loud disagreements here :)) - I have been very lucky in
>> that regard (and Maxine Greene was one) - but most don’t ‘theorize’
>> imagination in some fashion (I mean make it a !particular! teaching
>> focus) and I am hoping your writings in Heathcote's regard might give me
>> a better perspective on what is possible more generally.
>>       Oh, being writeable seems, to me, to be an integral part of the
>> verification process. Also I note that in all disciplines I know about
>> you can play it multiple times and in different ways. However, I admit to
>> being influenced by Goffman in this regard.
>> Thanks
>> Ed
>>> On Feb 29, 2016, at  2:39 PM, Susan Davis <s.davis@cqu.edu.au> wrote:
>>> Hi Ed
>>> Both Vygotsky and Heathcote both understood that the work of the
>>> imagination is not only an individual mental exercise but in inspired by
>>> and is expressed through interactions with others, conceptual tools and
>>> ultimately material means and artefacts.
>>> I think Vygotksy described the different ways imagination worked very
>>> well
>>> indeed and I have summarised that in the book. Some key quotes from him
>>> include: 
>>> Everything the imagination creates is always based on elements taken
>>> from
>>> reality, from a person’s previous
>>> experience. The most fantastic creations are nothing other than a new
>>> combination of elements that have ultimately been extracted from
>>> reality.
>>> (p. 13)
>>> The first law of creativity: The
>>> act of imagination depends directly on the richness and variety of a
>>> person’s
>>> previous experience because this experience provides the material from
>>> which
>>> the products of creativity are constructed. The richer a person’s
>>> experience,
>>> the richer is the material his imagination has access to. Great works
>>> and
>>> discoveries are always the result of an enormous amount of previously
>>> accumulated experience. The implication of this for education is that,
>>> if
>>> we
>>> want to build a relatively strong foundation for a child’s creativity,
>>> what we
>>> must do is broaden the experiences we provide him with.(pp. 14-15)
>>> The right kind of education
>>> involves awakening in the child what already exists within him, helping
>>> him to
>>> develop it and directing this development in a particular direction. (p.
>>> 51)
>>> –Vygotsky,
>>> L. (2004) “Imagination and creativity in childhood.” Journal of Russian
>>> and Was tEuropean PsychologyVol. 42 No. 1.
>>> This work recognises therefore that to inspire imagination means
>>> ‘feeding’
>>> the imagination and it is therefore the teacher’s responsibility to work
>>> with children and bring in various tools, processes and provocations
>>> that
>>> will draw them into creative processes.
>>> In terms of working in drama I think the notion of the social
>>> imagination
>>> comes into play (though that is a term more closely associated with
>>> Maxine
>>> Green) and collectively a group creates something together - something
>>> that did not exist previously and which would not exist in the same form
>>> if created individually.  In that sense it is helpful to draw on the
>>> language of improvised drama to understand the process -  someone
>>> generally makes an ‘offer’ to begin the imaginative exploration,
>>> practically speaking in embodied action it can be a physical or verbal
>>> offer.  Multiple offers can at times be made but one has to be accepted,
>>> and then extended upon. This process keeps going and as those who have
>>> studied improvised drama knows, the key is then to draw the threads
>>> together and find an appropriate conclusion.  Now what this means in
>>> practice is a fluid interplay of power shifts as people forfeit their
>>> right to have their every idea accepted (which is unworkable), trusting
>>> that if they go with the one that is on the table or seems to ‘grab’
>>> people,  they will be able to contribute and that the outcome will be
>>> something that they are a part of and will be worthwhile. That is social
>>> imagination in action. Decisions are often made in the moment - not
>>> after
>>> exhaustive dialogue - although reflection on what has gone on and been
>>> created often occurs afterwards. This is especially the case if you were
>>> to be devising a new work. The whole process has to be underpinned by a
>>> sense of trust and a belief that as a group the give and take of the
>>> process will generate something that has been worth the effort. It
>>> doesn’t
>>> always, but that is often part of the educational process with children
>>> and participants - 'what do you feel worked, what didn’t, what offers
>>> ended up proving fruitful, were there ‘blocks’ that we couldn’t work
>>> around?  If we did it again what would you change?’ and so on. (see some
>>> of Keith Sawyer’s work on improvisation for more insights on how these
>>> processes work and why he believes improvised theatre is perhaps the
>>> highest form of creativity)
>>> It is writerly in Barthes sense in that while a ‘text' has often been
>>> initiated, it is deliberately left unfinished and the participants must
>>> make imaginative leaps, connections and new solutions to be able to
>>> complete the text or dramatic encounter. What is also interesting in a
>>> drama process is that you can play it multiple times, from different
>>> perspectives and something different can be revealed each time.  In
>>> Boal’s
>>> work with forum theatre people from an audience and the disenfranchised
>>> are also invited to step up and take on a role within a version (as
>>> spectactors), therefore finding ways to shift power dynamics and to
>>> explore alternative solutions.
>>> I hope this is of interest.
>>> Cheers
>>> Sue
>>> On 1/03/2016 4:58 am, "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>>>> Susan
>>>>   Coming a little late to this conversation and thinking about your
>>>> comments last July on Vygotsky and imagination, I was wondering if any
>>>> of
>>>> that played a large role in your book. In particular and if so, how did
>>>> Heathcote, one might say, pragmatically theorize imagination? It seems,
>>>> given, what you have written in the present thread that she seems to
>>>> have
>>>> created moments through a stance that "respected and worked with the
>>>> material they offered, drawing out significance, considering the
>>>> implications and working dialogically with very alternative views from
>>>> her own.” This, in some of the literature, is indicative of an
>>>> imaginative ‘leap’ that is stabilized in the ‘waking state.’ In a
>>>> sense,
>>>> the moment becomes, in somewhat the sense of Barthes, ‘writeable.'
>>>> Ed Wall
>>>>> On Feb 24, 2016, at  5:32 AM, Susan Davis <s.davis@cqu.edu.au> wrote:
>>>>> Thanks Robert,
>>>>> It’s great to have the book published as part of your series.  The
>>>>> book
>>>>> is
>>>>> called “Learning that matters: Revitalising Heathcote’s Rolling Role
>>>>> for
>>>>> the digital age”.
>>>>> https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/imagination-and-pra
>>>>> xi
>>>>> s/
>>>>> learning-that-matters/
>>>>> For those who haven’t heard of Heathcote before, she was a ‘master’
>>>>> teacher who achieved international recognition for her teaching
>>>>> practice
>>>>> in the 70s and 80s - in particular for pioneering processes such as
>>>>> Mantle
>>>>> of the Expert - which use role and fictional contexts to position
>>>>> children
>>>>> as ‘experts’ and active agents in investigative processes. She also
>>>>> invented this system called ‘Rolling Role’ which is a form of
>>>>> trans-disciplinary learning - where multiple classes work with the
>>>>> same
>>>>> common context, but from their particular frame or subject
>>>>> perspective.
>>>>> The beauty of it is that no one group ‘owns’ the outcome, but groups
>>>>> regularly ‘publish’ and share artefacts and outcomes throughout the
>>>>> process, with each group having to use and ‘roll’ the work of what has
>>>>> gone before.  It was a system she believed was perfectly suited for
>>>>> revisiting in the digital age… so that is what the book hopes to
>>>>> assist
>>>>> with… the Vygotskian and CHAT work was very helpful in conceptualising
>>>>> and
>>>>> understanding this work.
>>>>> At times reading the work of Vygotsky and Heathcote it felt like they
>>>>> could have been writing about education today!
>>>>> Educational experience, no less than theoretical research,
>>>>> teaches us that, in practice, a straightforward learning of concepts
>>>>> always
>>>>> proves impossible and educationally fruitless. Usually, any teacher
>>>>> setting out
>>>>> on this road achieves nothing except a meaningless acquisition of
>>>>> words,
>>>>> mere
>>>>> verbalization in children, which is nothing more than simulation and
>>>>> imitation
>>>>> of corresponding concepts which, in reality, are concealing a vacuum.
>>>>> In
>>>>> such cases, the child assimilates not
>>>>> concepts but words, and he fills his memory more than his thinking.
>>>>> As a
>>>>> result, he ends up helpless in the face of any sensible attempt to
>>>>> apply
>>>>> any of
>>>>> this acquired knowledge. Essentially, this method of teaching/learning
>>>>> concepts, a purely scholastic and verbal method of teaching, which is
>>>>> condemned
>>>>> by everybody and which advocates the replacement of acquisition of
>>>>> living
>>>>> knowledge by the assimilation of dead and empty verbal schemes,
>>>>> represents
>>>>> the
>>>>> most basic failing in the field of education. (Vygotsky 1934/1994a,
>>>>> pp.
>>>>> 356-7)
>>>>> So – getting rid of the dummy run. On the face of it you
>>>>> have a rather interesting paradox in drama, because it looks like
>>>>> drama
>>>>> is
>>>>> entirely artificial and that the whole thing would be a dummy run – we
>>>>> are
>>>>> only
>>>>> pretending actually.  And we use words
>>>>> like pretend and play and in our culture it does suggest that it’s
>>>>> ephemeral
>>>>> and there’s no real work/life purpose for it…. So it seems to me we
>>>>> need to
>>>>> look and see what it is that makes something NOT feel like a dummy
>>>>> run…
>>>>> It seemed to me that one of the important aspects of not
>>>>> being a dummy run is that it matters now, we feel like its urgent now.
>>>>> (Heathcote 1993, Tape 9)
>>>>> Cheers
>>>>> Sue
>>>>> Dr Susan Davis
>>>>> Senior Lecturer | School of Education & the Arts | Higher Education
>>>>> Division 
>>>>> CQUniversity Australia, Noosa Campus |
>>>>> PO Box 1128, Qld 4566
>>>>> P +61 (0)7 5440 7007 | X 547007 | M +61 400 000 000| E
>>>>> s.davis@cqu.edu.au
>>>>> On 24/02/2016 12:14 am, "Robert Lake" <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> ​Susan Davis has published a book that weaves LSV, Dorothy Heathcote
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> CHAT
>>>>>> into one seamless, present tense unfolding of "rolling role". If
>>>>>> anyone
>>>>>> would like to write a review of it I can get you a copy. It has been
>>>>>> five
>>>>>> years since Heathcote's passing and I suspect her work will become
>>>>>> more
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> more  important in this era of standardized everything.
>>>>>> *Robert Lake*
>>>>>> https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/2709-learning-that-matters.pdf
>>>>>> For a sense of the dynamic of  Dorothy's pedagogy, scroll to about 5
>>>>>> minutes into this.
>>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owKiUO99qrw
>>>>> <default.xml>