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High Schools/Universities

Where imaginal education has been applied in high schools and universities

High Schools

With imaginal education courses created and taught since the 1960s, many high school teachers applied image change methods in their classrooms and various programs were created for high school youth.  Here are some of those stories.

Project Learning

as told by OliveAnn Slotta, 2018

OliveAnn received the Disney Company’s American Teacher Award  in 1991 for her work with this Imaginal Education program.

Changing Adolescent Images of Community, Self, and School toward greater personal success  in the Denver Public Schools

During the summer of 1986, a team of four high school teachers- one each from the disciplines of science, social studies, English and mathematics- met with two ICA Imaginal Education facilitators to design an image-based, two year curriculum rotation of lessons and community projects to radically alter the academically struggling, 100 +participating students.  This new, school-within-a-school program identified and addressed these three unhelpful, negative images, for change:

    1. Their image of school as irrelevant and boring (cause–instruction disconnected from experience)  
    2. The image of community as hostile and dangerous (police/teen-age harassment) and
    3. The image of self as a hopeless learner (pattern of failing grades).

Carefully written curriculum changes included a variety of learning styles and modes of presentation, regular interactions with community leaders, and academic interventions. Intentional messages were both direct and clear verbal ones, as well as visual and experiential ones.   


For her Master’s degree, Oliveann wrote The Project Approach to Learning: Documentation of the success of an existential approach in which she shows community involvement showed higher than average voting records, a nearly 100% high school graduation rate, and over 50% college enrollment.  In her dissertation titled “Roles and Perceptions of Five Stakeholder Groups in a High School Program that Exemplified Second-Order Change” (University of Colorado, 1999), she wrote about Image-Based Learning. 

Student Drama and a Reading Community

as told by Leah Early, a high school drama and English teacher in Nevada 2018

As a high school drama and reading teacher, Leah Early created a two-week long Spring One Act Play Festival where every student was an actor during the week. On the last night two comedies were to be played. Her story, “Unlikely Hero” shows how images changed that night, from one student seen as a failure to being seen as a hero and how the student csst shifted their images from possible failure to joyful success.

“Creating a Reading Community” is Leah’s story about how a core of English teachers recreated their images when they realized that only 51% of them were graduating a grade level. Changing their reading strategies over a seven year period, the teachers and the students had new images of success: 87% of the students were reading a college level.

Other Examples

  • Chicago, Illinois, USA.  In the summer of 2009 Sunny Walker facilitated a six-week “ICA Summer Teen Leadership Program” for 100 high school students. Half of the day the students were trained in facilitation methods and the other half they were engaged in environmental projects.
  • Western Samoa.  In 1974 Ann and George Ensinger, Ruth Landmann, Bev Gazarian, and Hana Curts created a manual, “The World We Create: Imaginal Education for Western Samoa”, that documents five years of their teaching in the Methodist High School there.

More on high school experiences of using imaginal education:


–  “University 13: An Innovative Approach to Higher Education”  (prospectus 1973 and 1975).