Imagine That

October 07, 2004, vol. 31, no. 3
By Felicity Stone



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Many people associate imagination with something like fantasizing, says Keiichi Takaya, who recently completed his doctoral thesis on imagination in education.

But for Takaya, imagination is a combination of various mental capacities such as curiosity and content knowledge.

In his thesis, Takaya examines how a number of educational theorists conceptualize imagination, then presents his own idea of how it should be connected with education. Teaching basic knowledge and skills are fundamental to creating imaginative students, he says, though it is equally important to engage students' curiosity.

Takaya was born and raised in Tokyo, where he studied kendo (samurai swordsmanship) from childhood. “Probably my theory of education is influenced by my experience in kendo as well as western philosophy of education in which I specialize,” he says. He noticed that people do not complain about doing repetitive drills in kendo or in other sports and the arts the way they do in school.

He suspects that it is easier for students to visualize the outcome of sports and the arts compared to more abstract subjects.

Therefore he suggests that teachers and curriculum planners stimulate students' curiosity by ensuring they understand the relevance of what they are studying.

Though Takaya expected to devote himself entirely to his thesis when he came to Canada, he ended up teaching kendo as well, starting a kendo program at SFU. He also found himself involved in helping his thesis advisor create a Japanese garden outside the faculty of education. “I knew nothing about gardening or anything like that,” he says, “but somehow I learned how to build a Japanese garden from my Irish-Canadian supervisor.”

Now that he has his doctorate, Takaya's ideal job would combine research and classroom teaching in some way. “Eventually,” he says, “I want to go back to Japan because Japanese education is my primary concern.”

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