Developing Minds 2020


Dr. Susan O'Neill 

Lessons from creative and critical thinkers: How synergies and silos impact students' learning

Susan O’Neill is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She is President of the UNESCO-affiliated International Society for Music Education and the World Alliance for Arts Education. She has graduate degrees in three disciplines (psychology, music, education), has held academic appointments at research-intensive universities in Canada and the UK, and has been awarded visiting fellowships at the University of Michigan, University of Melbourne and Trinity College Dublin. She has over 100 peer refereed publications and a co-authored book, Why Multimodal Literacy Matters. An intergenerational arts program she developed through her research won the BC Retired Teachers’ Association Gold Star Award for Excellence in Public Education. Dr. O’Neill is a leading researcher in the areas of young people’s music, arts and digital media engagement and the social impact of creative learning on young people’s lives. O’Neill’s record of teaching includes learning theories, music, critical youth studies, creativity, curriculum theory, reflective practice in teacher education, and ethics in education. Of recent significance is her contributions to intercultural learning, supported by a grant from SFU’s International Engagement Fund, exploring students’ experiences of using video conferencing, social media and creative digital technologies to enhance their critical understanding of cultural historical, Indigenous and global citizenship education. Her current research includes a large survey and interview study of young people’s creative technology engagement in provinces across Canada.

Abstract: In this talk, I explore how synergies in critical and creative thinking are fostered through socially engaged arts practices that adopt a transformative activist approach. These transformative learning experiences encourage students to see things differently and speak back to the realities of their world and make meaningful contributions. As students work collaboratively and become deeply immersed in critical and creative processes focused on issues that interest and matter to them, they discover their own capacity to make contributions that are capable of bringing about personal and social transformations. Drawing on examples from recent projects, I’ll discuss what we can learn from the perspective of students as critical and creative thinkers engaged in synergistic processes to bring a collectively imagined possible future into reality. I’ll also consider how educators might overcome the silos that tend to compartmentalize critical and creative thinking from actions that bring about positive and transformative social change.

Key words: socially engaged arts practice; transformative learning; critical and creative thinking synergies; transformative activist approach.

View Dr. O'Neill's presentation here:

Dr. Nicolas Fillion 

Creative and Critical Thinking in Action in the Classroom: Ethics Bowl

Dr. Fillion's interactive presentation will examine how we can best promote our students' intellectual development in the current environment. The ongoing curricular reform in BC proposes an answer, albeit incomplete, to this question. After reviewing the guiding principles of the new curriculum, he will describe an activity that has recently been implemented in BC—the High School Ethics Bowl—and will explain how it fosters an integrative development of each core competency emphasized in the new curriculum.

Bio: Nicolas Fillion is a philosopher and mathematician who is assistant professor of philosophy at Simon Fraser University. His main research contributions are in the philosophy of science and applied mathematics, but his research and teaching includes the history of science & mathematics, formal logic, decision and game theory, critical thinking, and epistemology broadly construed. He has also been involved with various outreach, regulation, and curricular initiatives to promote the teaching of philosophy and critical thinking in BC high schools. For DevMinds18, he co-authored a position paper, Overview of Critical Thinking in the BC K-12 Curriculum Revisions [available here]. Recent recipient of a Cormack Teaching Award, you can learn about Nic in this news post.

* EthicsBowl-15mins.pdf
Download Dr. Fillion's presentation here:

Dr. Kieran Egan 

The Role of Imagination and Cognitive Tools in Developing Creative and Critical Thinking

Dr. Kieran Egan's presentation will introduce Imaginative Education (IE) and situate it in current educational theory and practice. The presentation will include a sketch of IE's main features and distinctiveness, and also give examples of how these show themselves in everyday classrooms. One of the prominent features of Imaginative Education is the use of “cognitive tools.” The talk will describe some of these “tools” and exemplify how our imaginations use them to engage with the world from earliest years to maturity.

Bio: Kieran Egan is an emeritus professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU. He has worked for some time trying to articulate a way of seeing education as a series of activities driven by the imagination, in which imagination is enabled and constrained by the accumulation of knowledge and psychological development. This view is an alternative to previous views that have seen education as driven by accumulating knowledge (“traditionalism”) or by psychological development (“progressivism”) or some mix of the two. This alternative conception of the process of education is best described in his book The Educated Mind: How cognitive tools shape our understanding (Chicago University Press.)

* Egan PPoint Developing Minds Conf Feb 2020-1.pptx
Download Dr. Egan's presentation here:

CIRCE Panel 

The Role of Imagination and Cognitive Tools in Developing Creative and Critical Thinking

Abstract: The Imaginative K-post-secondary educators on the CIRCE panel will provide specific practical examples of how cognitive tools shape their imaginative teaching practices in ways that develop their students' critical and creative thinking skills.

CIRCE is an international organization dedicated to imagination in all its varied forms. While we have deep roots, interest, and involvement in the field of education, we branch into a range of other fields including leadership, business, STEM/STEAM, and the arts.

We believe that imagination is as important for learning in the sciences as it is in the arts. as important at the post-secondary level as it is in primary classrooms, and as central to adult and community education as it is to online learning.

Panel members are:

  • Michael Datura
  • Judy Dabideen-Sonachansingh
  • Kavita Hoonjan
  • James Johnson
  • Dr. Tim Waddington


* CIRCE Cognitive Tools Resource for Creative Critical Thinking.pdf
Download the CIRCE resource toolkit here:
* Afternoon CIRCE panel one pagers.pdf
Download CIRCE panel resources here:

James Johnson

James developed his imaginative approach to teaching and learning in public schools and at S.F.U. over 20 years. Professional interests include hermeneutics. His current focus is therapeutic applications of Imaginative Education in Alternative Education settings.

* James Johns Developing Minds Conference.pptx
Download James' presentation here:

Kavita Hoonjan

Program Coordinator for Professional Programs in the Faculty of Education at SFU.

Kavita is an imaginative teacher and teacher educator, passionate about authentic, meaningful and long-term learning.

* Le test english.pptx
Download Kavita's presentation here:

Michael D. Datura

Michael is a humanities teacher on the unceded territories of the Salish peoples, a doctoral candidate, and occasional poet. He's a member of the Academic Council for CIRCE and teaches graduate-level teachers on an Imaginative Education approach to learning.

* Feb 14 CIRCE Presentation_Datura.pdf
Download Michael's' presentation here:

Tim Waddington

Tim is a Lecturer of Social Studies and Teacher Inquiry in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia.

* TWaddington.pdf
Download Tim's presentation here:

Judy Dabideen-Sonachansingh

Judy has an MEd in Imaginative Education and is a member of CIRCE's Academic Council. She is also a retired Chemistry teacher.


Download Judy's presentation here: