Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Spring 7-1-2015


Cunningham, C, (2015) Imagination: Active in Teaching and Learning (master's thesis) Retrieved from


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Theresa Catalano. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Christopher Cunningham


This autoethnography tells the story of the author’s endeavor to examine my teaching during a sculpture lesson in three 2nd grade art classes in a mid-western suburban Title I elementary school. I analyze my planning, teaching, reflecting through the lens of Stuart Richmond’s Characteristics of Imaginative Teaching as well as noted educational theorists’ conceptions of imagination and imaginative teaching and learning. These theorists include but are not limited to Maxine Greene, Kieran Egan, John Dewey, and The Lincoln Center Institute’s Capacities for Imaginative Learning. I conclude that imaginative teaching is an intentional act and that there is no formula for teaching imaginatively. I also find that imaginative teaching can involve 1) respect for students’ subjectivity and inherent nature to explore; 2) allowance of space for students to use their senses and interpretative ability; 3) thoughtfully imposed limits for students to push up against and break from conventional thought and action; and 4) collaborative learning that develops empathic appreciation for different perspectives. Additionally, I give insights on the teacher’s role in creating an environment that includes these ideas.

Adviser: Theresa Catalano