?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Ranger

The Mechanics of Practical Imagination

Posted on 2012.12.03 at 00:00
Current Location: 67235
Tags: ,

One of the definitions of imagination is the ability to face and resolve difficulties. Which makes sense given imagination is an integral component of the learning process, from which higher-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are subsumed - the essential building blocks of critical thinking. More important however, imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is a fundamental faculty through which people make sense of the world.*


Think about that for a moment - if you cannot imagine - you will likely, more often that not, be surprised, confused, or baffled about everyday events which occur around you that fall outside normal routine. In essence, you may perceive no reason behind something you experienced. Imagination "is the ability of forming new images and sensations when they are not perceived through sight, hearing, or other senses."*


I am rarely surprised in part, I believe, due to my automatic and constant scenario-running; following potential logical conclusions in an array of possible variables and outcomes. "When facing a situation, `I can't believe this is happening` is not an acceptable answer for a workable solution. Furthermore, why not? We are each responsible for maintaining a general understanding of causality and the role we play in it, or at least the recognition that we could all be faced with situations in which we were not prepared. It would be foolish to coast through life thinking things would never change. The fact that we weren't expecting it is not a sustainable end-game when repeated ad nauseum."*


Constructivism is a learning theory which promotes the ways people create meaning of the world around them by way of a series of individual constructs - different types of filters we choose to place over our realities for the purposes of comprehension. Rounding back to higher-order thinking, one subset, social constructivism, helps teach in part how to provide multiple representations of reality, avoid oversimplification by representing the complexity of the real world, and encourages thoughtful reflection on experiences in order to promote understanding.


The fact that our imagination is fueled in part by our perceptions skirts the frightening waters of belief, covered in exacting detail here. Frightening only if we are unable to process, absorb and apply new knowledge which may conflict with what we think we know - how we expect the world to be, when in fact it may behave differently at times leading to the surprise, confusion or bafflement above. Wikipedia says that imagination differs from belief because belief "endeavors to conform to the subject's experienced conditions or faith in the possibility of those conditions; whereas imagination as such is specifically free." Whatever the outer circumstances, I am ever perceiving inner pattern-forms and using real-world materials to operationalize them. Others may see what is and wonder why; I see what might be and say "Why not?!" Imagination coupled with belief.


Higher-ordered thinking isn't for everyone. Challenging fixed beliefs takes not only courage, but a modicum of comprehension and self-awareness, two things I've been hard-pressed to discover in the general population - everyone thinks they're open-minded...except for that one thing.

Comments:


Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-12-03 14:02 (UTC) (Link)
"When facing a situation, `I can't believe this is happening` is not an acceptable answer for a workable solution.

Like you, I am rarely totally taken by surprise by a turn of events - because I continually run scenarios, reviewing all possible trajectories. The closest I come to surprise is when I've weighted a possibility as unlikely, and it it occurs. (Possibly because I missed something or simply didn't have all of the information.)

While I've never uttered the words, "I can't believe this is happening," I do understand how less proficient scenario runners, could feel that way - at first. Once it's realized that a certain turn of events has indeed come to pass, then maintaining the feeling of disbelief becomes maladaptive. And more importantly, saying that you can't believe it doesn't change one damn thing. Reality doesn't care about what you can and cannot believe.
ehowton
ehowton at 2012-12-03 14:54 (UTC) (Link)
Interesting you brought up "weighted" possibilities as I was pleased to discover it on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Objectives during the research phase of this post under the higher-order thinking skills. Sometimes I think mine could use some tweaking!

Reality doesn't care about what you can and cannot believe.
IKR? I've been caught in that loop before, "OMG this just happened we need to make a plan."
"It shouldn't have happened."
"Right, yes! But it did - let's make a plan."
"You're not listening to me, it should not have happened."
"I KNOW BUT IT DID. So. We. Need. To. Make. A. Plan..."

Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-12-03 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
Interesting you brought up "weighted" possibilities as I was pleased to discover it on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Objectives during the research phase of this post under the higher-order thinking skills. Sometimes I think mine could use some tweaking!

LOL! Perhaps. But don't weight outcomes too early in the scenario-running. Looking at even the most obscure outcomes is illuminating. It is only when trying to choose a course of action that weighting becomes significant.
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-12-03 16:24 (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating!
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-12-03 14:21 (UTC) (Link)
Imagination serves multiple and equally important functions: it allows us to make some predictions about the future; it allows us to consciously create the future by showing us different options; and it permits us to try to understand others' viewpoints and feelings, by recognizing that they may be different from but equally valid to our own.

In regard to the latter, I am of the opinion that children began learning this process when parents / teachers ask, how do you think that other child feels (about something you did). "How would you like it if was done to you?"

Such a simple, but important lesson if learned becomes a valuable tool throughout life. One can always ask herself, "Wow, what would make a person behave this way?" (I've used it often in work situations.) The answer is never simply that they are evil people who want to inflict pain. Usually, the person in question is operating under a different set of parameters, and perhaps there are unknown stressors affecting behavior about which I am unaware. But by asking the question, I can usually begin to pin down what might be driving the questionable behavior.

If it's a difference in our understanding of the situation, then that can be addressed - misconceptions corrected, compromises made. If it is a stressor that has nothing to do with the obvious situation (a personal issue), then I can be a little more understanding and sympathetic.
ehowton
ehowton at 2012-12-03 17:45 (UTC) (Link)
The only fault I can find in the above is getting appropriate answers to the numerous questions you require for your own understanding. In my experience, that is the primary roadblock - not in asking the right questions, but in getting substantiated answers.
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-12-03 18:44 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, this can happen when people remain stubbornly unaware of their own motivations. While I have upon occasion run into this, the majority of the time a few diplomatic questions permits the person to dig a little, and they usually appreciate the insight.
Previous Entry  Next Entry