“Imaginal education enables students to discover and create images of themselves that motivate them to free, intelligent, responsible involvement in society. Images bridge between ideas and concrete actions; they are the guides, forces and critics of our sense of personal integrity and vocational accomplishment. Imaginal education intends to awaken and expand the image making capacity … What is needed is a reconstruction of life attitudes, a reeducation of the imagination. Whatever this process is called – motivational, contextual, attitudinal or imaginal education – a new dimension must be added to our concept of learning.
This could well be the most crucial issue of our time.”
From The Image Journal, Winter 1965 (edited)
SELF IMAGE: An internal picture each person has of who we think we are, what we think we can do, and how best to do it.
Imaginal education is a whole-person approach to learning that creates a way to release the boundless potential of an individual or group, so it can act creatively. Educators see learning as an every moment reality, touching all dimensions of a person’s life. As Institute teachers began to develop image change curriculum, they researched and experimented with many approaches. LiDona Wagner writes stories of the beginnings of Imaginal Education in the 1960s as it was used with the Muskedoodler gang and 5th City Preschool in “Origins of Imaginal Education.”
The first chapter of Kenneth Boulding’s book, The Image (1956), was the most influential in the development of imaginal education. Boulding says that behavior is based on the way people see themselves in the world: through self-perception, self-story, and self-image. In a visit Kenneth Boulding had with Denver ICA staff, he said he was surprised how well the Institute summarized his thinking into five principles:
1. Everyone operates out of images
2. Images govern behavior
3. Messages shape behavior
4. Images can be changed
5. When images change, behavior changes
In 1990 David Cooperrider wrote about the role image change plays in various disciplines in Chapter 4: “Positive Image, Positive Action: The affirmative basis of organizing”.