What Is Educational Imagineering?

Jul 18, 2015 by

What Is Educational Imagineering?
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A few years ago, I was between jobs and working as an educational consultant. While making my business cards, I was brainstorming job titles. What was I, really? What was my goal as an educator? As a creative? As a PERSON?

Then it came to me-I was an Educational Imagineer. I take ideas, roll them around in my head, toss them on paper, mold them into a workable idea and revise some more. I look at what’s working in my classroom and what’s not working and try to make sense of it all. I am a dreamer, a critic and a realist.

Most people know the word ‘imagineer’ from Walt Disney. Most people do NOT know that he didn’t invent it! The word imagineer has been around since the 1940’s, first being coined by an aluminum company.  It’s meaning, a combination of imagination and engineering, however, defines my favorite pastime. Figuring out how to solve problems in my classroom with creative solutions.

Because I consider myself an Educational Imagineer, I’ve always been fascinated with Walt Disney’s creative process. The story says he had three physical rooms in his animation studio-one for the ‘Creative’, one for the ‘Realist’ and one for the ‘Critic’.

What is Educational Imagineering? -SproutClassrooms.com
In the Creative room, ideas flew. No idea was a bad idea. Everyone was encouraged to go out on a limb and no suggestion was shot down. He lined his Creative room with cork board so Imagineers could pin up their artwork for all to see, which is where story-boarding first took form. It was a safe, encouraging place, both emotionally and physically.

In the Realist room, the big ideas met reality. Disney and his animators started to ask ‘would this actually WORK?’.  Did the scene contribute to the plot line? Did the character talk, walk, move like they should? Was the song up to Disney standards? They became harsh judges of their previous brainstorming and weeded out many of the ideas. Peers had to remember to be constructive in their criticism, but also honest. Emotions were set aside and reality was met head on.

In the Critic room, Walt made grown men cry. Only the very best ideas made the cut, with many sessions having every idea thrown away at this point. Animators who had spent 3 months on a scene would see their work thrown in the trash. This is the room where the classic movies we know today were truly created, as only the best would be kept.

After he and the animators left the Critic room, they went back to the Creative room to start over.

What if we brought this thought process into the classroom? What if we asked students to become Creatives, then Realists, then Critics with their projects? I’m just beginning to explore this thought, and this packet is my first stab at a visual. My students responded really well to this idea as so many are Disney fans to begin with.

What is Educational Imagineering? -SproutClassrooms.com
Enjoy, and please let me know if there are areas in your classroom that you’d like to see this thought process expanded in to! I’ll be writing more soon about Educational Imagineering-can’t wait to pass my ideas on!


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