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  • Phil Jarvis

Imagination Triggers Wonder, Creativity, and Learning. Does School Ignite Imagination?

As an Education Reimagineer, I try to imagine how schools might be reimagined to better ignite students' imagination. I picture school being more fun, stimulating, engaging, and productive for students, teachers, parents, and the community at large. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

Rather than a half dozen isolated academic silos, all learning could be framed in urgent, real-world issues that need addressing to create a safe, sustainable, healthy, and just environment for all humans to thrive. The 3 R's, other school subjects, indeed preparation for all future career and life roles, can be learned more effectively in the context of project- and community-based experiential learning challenges subsumed by the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Amazing free resources, including outstanding lesson plans and videos for students, teachers, and parents, all based on the Sustainable Development Goals are available at The World's Largest Lesson. They can be filtered by resource type, duration, age group, language, goal, or theme, and range from a simple introduction to the goals to deep dives on specific issues that can be used in community settings with adults.

I imagine students and teachers tackling challenges and learning together in relaxed circles rather than the rigid grids of traditional classrooms. Both teachers and students would gravitate to multi-age, multi-size groups that share a passion for an issue. The composition and duration of these groups would morph as some learners choose to dive deeper and others to move on to new groups and issues.


Mathematics, sciences, language, history, social studies, the arts, health, and physical education, etc., will be part of the solution in most learning projects. Social and emotional learning and teamwork would be centerpieces of this approach, as would project and financial management. Since the issues are real, rather than what may seem abstract academic concepts, learning-challenged students are more likely to engage.


Standardized tests would be as irrelevant in my reimagined schools as they are in the lives of adults. The challenge for teachers will not be bell curves or accountability checklists. It will be ensuring all students are personally engaged, contributing to resolving issues they care deeply about, and having fun! When imaginations are engaged, learning is natural and inherently fun.


Download and listen to my October 15, 2020, Hurley in the Morning interview with Stephen Hurley.

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