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[Xmca-l] Re: Heathcote and Immagination

Hi Ed,
I thought you were after the more traditional theoretical writings from
Heathcote.  She used many many theoretical concepts in her work and she
did actually talk about imagination quite specfically in some of
the tapes I analysed, mainly when talking about the preparation she did
before teaching and the use of a projective imagination.  This was about
envisaging the different ways things might play out and considering
alternatives. She also talked about how she was a highly visual thinker
and that options played out in her mind as if it were a movie.  At other
times she talks about the creative
process and she also talks about imagination even if not explicitly. I’d
have to go back to my transcripts for some examples.

I am well aware of arguments that other areas beyond the arts are
concerned with imagination and feelings/emotions etc (and yes my defining
of the arts extends well beyond Art to the many different ways people use
materials, movement, sound, action and even their own lives expressively).
However I’d still come back to intention,
primary purpose and form, the primary purpose of Maths is not to express
feelings and emotions, however in much arts practice it is. I’d also
consider the accessibility of an area like Math
for expressive potential for school aged children.  There are not many
children who could/would be able to use math forms as their creative
vehicle for sharing their ideas and emotions socially.  It is also about
the qualities of such that are available for them to be able to manipulate
in combination. Elliot Eisner talked in a keynote address in 2011 about
how when a child writes a Math formula the content of such is important
but the qualities and how they are used (e.g. Red pen or blue pen, lined
paper or plain) are less so, however in the arts the quality of qualities
remains very important. They encourage the cultivation of judgment,
thinking and feeling.

In terms of my use of the term ‘feeding’ the imagination and creativity
perhaps if I explain how I first came to use that term. When I work with
pre-service education students in the arts, many of them begin the course
by saying ‘I’m not creative’.  What I say to them is that we are all
creative, and you make creative decisions in your life every day, however
you can be more creative (in the arts) if you want to be but you have to
‘feed’ your creativity. i.e. In their case choose an arts area you want to
explore and be more creative in, practice it, look at lots of examples of
other art work, identify what you like, would like to have a go at.  We
also provide them with different materials they can use, different
examples and techniques they can try out... So as Vygotsky put it adding
to the richness and variety of their experience.  If people don’t want to
engage in that (and some do nothing beyond what we do in class) so be it,
but the ones who do go beyond that, and start observing, practising and
deliberately ‘feeding’ their own creativity and imagination inevitably
create more interesting and imaginative work in the long run and also feel
a great sense of satisfaction and pride.

So I know this is not totally focussed on imagination… but more like
imagination, art, creativity and the possibilities of working with
expressive forms. 



On 3/03/2016 2:45 am, "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:

>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
>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,
>> 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
>> artistic forms, they also enable people to explore, externalise and
>> 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
>> imaginative ideas. I’m sure there’s probably theoretical work out there
>> about that, as there is a lot of interest in ‘embodied’ learning
>> 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
>> ‘into’ emotional experiences (Bolton 1986). The framing would also
>> certain imaginative possibilities and these would shift depending on the
>> framing. The framing therefore provides some parameters and ‘tools’ as
>> 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
>> the protagonist of the event, or a casual observer.  So I guess this is
>> example also of what I was saying about ‘feeding’ the imagination.  That
>> might also be done through bringing in different texts or objects that
>> 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
>>> I find Vygotsky as one in a long line of thinkers who sees imagination
>>> 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
>>> Adolescent, p163) on this matter from Vygotsky as it, for me, embodies
>>> lot about how I have been thinking about imagination: “From our point
>>> 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
>>> teacher (I am talking about a comparative quality, but that would take
>>> to far afield here) and ‘good’ teachers translate what might be called
>>> pristine theory into what might be called messy practice. In some
>>> 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
>>> ‘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
>>> like this and your indication that students are allowed to sit out is,
>>> seems, a sort of confirmation. It is not that I don’t know other
>>> who act like Heathcote (every discipline contains such and there is
>>> nothing unique about ‘art' per se from a certain perspective on
>>> - I am fine with loud disagreements here :)) - I have been very lucky
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>>> and is expressed through interactions with others, conceptual tools
>>>> 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
>>>> 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,
>>>> him to
>>>> develop it and directing this development in a particular direction.
>>>> 51)
>>>> –Vygotsky,
>>>> L. (2004) “Imagination and creativity in childhood.” Journal of
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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),
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> to be devising a new work. The whole process has to be underpinned by
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>>> of
>>>>> that played a large role in your book. In particular and if so, how
>>>>> Heathcote, one might say, pragmatically theorize imagination? It
>>>>> 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
>>>>> 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>
>>>>>> 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”.
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> understanding this work.
>>>>>> At times reading the work of Vygotsky and Heathcote it felt like
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> concepts, a purely scholastic and verbal method of teaching, which
>>>>>> 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 –
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> (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
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> 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*
>>>>>>> For a sense of the dynamic of  Dorothy's pedagogy, scroll to about
>>>>>>> minutes into this.
>>>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owKiUO99qrw
>>>>>> <default.xml>