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J. Whitton, Fostering Imagination in Higher Education - Disciplinary and Professional Practices, Routledge 2018, 228 pages
Imagination and creative teaching approaches are increasingly important across all higher education disciplines, not just the arts. Investigating the role of imagination in teaching and learning in non-arts disciplines, this book argues that a lack of clarity about what imagination looks like in higher education impedes teachers in fostering their students’ creativity.
Fostering Imagination in Higher Education tells four ethnographic stories from physics, history, finance and pharmaceutical science courses, analytically observing the strategies educators use to encourage their students’ imagination, and detailing how students experience learning when it is focussed on engaging their imagination. The highly original study is framed by Ricoeur’s work on different forms of imagination (reproductive and productive or generative). It links imaginative thinking to cognitive science and philosophy, in particular the work of Clark, Dennett and Polanyi, and to the mediating role of disciplinary concepts and social-cultural practices.
The author’s discussion of models, graphs, strategies and artefacts as tools for taking learners’ thinking forward has much to offer understandings of pedagogy in higher education. Students in these case studies learned to create themselves as knowledge producers and professionals. It positioned them to experience actively the constructed nature of the knowledge and processes they were learning to use – and the continuing potential of knowledge to be remade in the future. This is what makes imaginative thinking elemental to the goals of higher education.