Why this blog?

"... Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ... Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Letters to a Young Artist, R. M. Rilke

Rooted in the promise and challenge of growth ...

these are letters from a young teacher.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Karen Gallas, Imagination and Literacy

This book is officially changing my educator's mind. And I'm not even finished. There will be more parts to this as I continue reading.

Karen Gallas is a teacher-researcher from Massachusetts who has written several books that float around the Charter colleagueship here. Several other teachers suggested I read it, so here I go. I now see why they were so encouraging.

For now, what a first read of this book has offered me is a completely new understanding of the vastness of the terms IMAGINATION and LITERACY. I realized I had gotten trapped in our common understanding of these terms, having forgotten how far-reaching they are, and completely losing sight of how fundamental they both are to ALL learning.

I will be very unprecise in my citations, simply because it's more important to me to flesh out my ideas, which I'm sure will blend with hers, and I'll lose track of the boundary. For now, allow me to get these ideas out, then on my second reading, I can provide a little bit more careful reflection.

First, IMAGINATION. Forming images in the mind. Is this not the fundamental essence of thought? I hold my glass of milk over an open floor and think of letting go. What will happen? I have a theory it will fall and milk will spill everywhere. How do I know? Most likely, I have seen it happen before. I've seen enough things fall and spill in my life, that just the sight of a glass of milk over an open floor triggers the image of what will happen if I let go. So it is that we can take what we know and create images of what is as of yet unknown to us, what has not yet happened, but could.

Second, LITERACY. Reading and writing, decoding and encoding. Is it only words and letters? Sounds and symbols. Gallas finally settles on "world-making", as she considers the many facets of literacy. Because literacy consists not only of words, but of discourse and vocabulary, which vary from discipline to discipline. Scientific literacy, for example, requires different learning than Spanish literacy. Each discipline step into is like a world of its own, with its own insider language. As we learn this language, and become literate in this discipline, we are making the world of that discipline a part of us and the way we see the world.

All of a sudden, the title Imagination and Literacy takes on a whole new meaning for me. Whereas I would have perhaps previously thought "Creativity and Language Arts", I now think "Images and Worlds in the Making", "Imagining and Internalizing", and "Imagining the World and Being in it" ...

The purpose of the book is to examine the role of imagination in early literacy. Already I am seeing so many connections to a project on storytelling I am planning, and I am sure I will have more write along those lines soon.

For now, how would you flesh out the concepts of IMAGINATION and LITERACY? What do they mean to you?

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