Due to its links to fantasy and make-believe, we often misunderstand imagination as being only relevant to creative or artistic expression. However, imagination actually refers to our ability to form new ideas or understanding of concepts that don’t already exist, whether in our minds or in the real world. Take for example a new Math topic that we are just starting on and that we have no understanding of — the only way to reconcile the knowledge we are gaining through textbooks with the actual practical application of that knowledge is by imagining it at work! Knowledge feeds our imagination, which in turn drives us to gain more knowledge. This creates a positive cycle of discovery and learning which we aim to develop as part of a well-rounded education. How can we foster our imagination so that we can grow as learners? Here are some useful tips:
Turn Words Into Pictures
Have you ever found yourself reading the same page of a textbook repeatedly for fifteen minutes without absorbing any information? If the sheer amount of words you encounter while trying to study feels like an obstacle in your educational journey, fret not! Sit down with a teacher or a study buddy to unpack those words one small step at a time. To ensure that the same words won’t be a hurdle to you again, turn key points into diagrams and mind maps that you can easily understand. Try to apply this method of translation whenever you encounter troubles in your learning journey — as time passes, you might even find yourself beginning to picture things in your head out of habit!
Read and Research On Your Own Time
Between attending classes and making your way through a mountain of assignments, it might feel like there’s no time in your schedule for more reading and research. This might be due to the fact that we treat reading and researching as work, instead of a pastime. Here’s a suggestion — for your next study session, try doing it in a library. During breaks from studying, check in with the librarian or browse the shelves for books related to the topics you’re studying. Look out for both fiction and non-fiction books — make sure they make for light reading instead of stressing you out further! For example, if you’re in the midst of studying Maths, check out Humble Pi by Matt Parker, or Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shatterly. Books like these can help you gain an appreciation of what you are learning beyond the textbook in an entertaining and enlightening way.
Erase Your Fear of Criticism
Fear is the enemy of imagination — so let us counter fear first! It might feel daunting to voice out your ideas when you are afraid of the negative feelings that come with criticism. Like being good at a sport, overcoming your fears comes with continuously facing up to and powering through tough obstacles. Write down your ideas so that you can rationalize it properly before you voice them out. In the face of criticism, don’t back away. Take the time to calmly think through the other party’s objections so that you politely rebut and further explain or elaborate on your thoughts. The more you practice this, the more you will be creating a safe space for yourself in your own head.
Keep telling yourself not to be afraid of what people have to say — most people didn’t believe Copernicus when he wrote that Earth and other planets in the Universe revolve around the Sun.
Imagine The Future
Imagining the future involves useful mental processes. However, many students simply focus on the past and not the future. Studies have shown that imagining the future has a powerful organizational effect on the self. In other words, you achieve what you imagine you would be achieving. Take for example, imagine yourself encountering a problem in your learning. Take the time to think about what you would do to solve the problem or to minimise its impact. Come up with possible situations in your mind and focus on how you would most likely feel; and what you would do if you encounter those situations in real life. The more you imagine yourself in those situations, the more you will be able to tackle difficulties that come in your way in the future.
Furthermore, imagine yourself achieving success. Not only does it make you look forward to achieving what you wish to achieve; it boosts your confidence as well! As a result, imagining yourself achieving success will prompt you to work hard to achieve your goals.
Every student has a different learning style. What works for you might not work for another student. Hence, it is important that you take the time to figure out the study method that best suits you. One effective studying method is the use of mnemonics. Some examples of mnemonics are: LAUGH – Laughing Aunts Under Green Hats; and NSEW (North, South, East, West) – Naughty Elephant Splashes Water. If you find it challenging to remember information, try using mnemonics to help you study. Mnemonics helps to make it easier for you to remember complicated information. They are most effective when they are unusual and are made out of things that are significant in your life. This is because what is significant in your life will be much more memorable for you. A study done has shown that students tend to remember more information when the mnemonics used are funny.
Therefore, be unique and try to imagine a humorous scenario which no one except you would understand when creating your mnemonics! Not only is it fun, it makes learning much more engaging and interesting.
Using imagination for learning makes you more interested and involved in what you are learning. You get intrigued by the topic and want to learn more, hence making your learning process less dull and boring. Imagination is the center of education and is useful for any subject. Students must be encouraged to think for themselves by tapping into their imaginations. This way, students will be able to learn more effectively and productively.
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