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Thought leaders who have influenced the development of image change globally

Origins of Imaginal Education ~~


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.”

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1960s ~ 1970s


As Imaginal Education was being developed, Kenneth Boulding’s Introduction to The Image (1956) (condensed version here) provided the framework for the curriculum with its five points of image change. 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.  The four-level chart of Boulding’s Image (for printing).

Kenneth Boulding in conversation with Catherine Welch and Sunny Walker at the ICA Denver office.

1980s ~ 1990s


When the ICA met David Cooperrider, he had written “Positive Image, Positive Action”. In this shorter version of his work, he highlights six areas of research on the role of image in society, including its influence in medicine, cognitive psychology, athletics and culture.  In retelling the Pygmalion story, he wrote that “signi­ficant Pygmalion effects have been experimentally generated in as little time as fifteen minutes and have the ap­parent capacity to transform the course of a lifetime.”

“…the artful creation of positive imagery on a collective basis may well be the most prolific activity that individuals and organizations can engage in if their aim is to help bring to fruition a positive and humanly significant future

… it is not surprising that research on the workings of the image has risen to be “one of the hottest topics in cognitive science”.

2000 ~ Present


Elise Packard, Miriam Patterson and Jane Stallman wrote The Evolving Resource of Imaginal Education: Releasing maximum potential of individuals, organizations, programs and communities. In their writing they describe:

    • the historical development and premises of image theory,
    •  how it relates to the brain’s development,
    • the dynamics of image change viewed through the facets of the Kaleidoscope, and
    • experiences of the process as it was used with the International Family Literacy Initiative.