Sense and Sensibility: Educating the Somantic Imagination


  • Mark Fettes


Both experience and imagination are restricted in modern schooling, arguably because their unpredictability threatens to undermine the dominant assembly-line metaphor of curriculum. Kieran Egan's account of imaginative development assigns a foundational role to embodied understanding, but leaves its educational cultivation largely unexplored. Nonetheless, Egan's narrative metaphor of curriculum can be extended to highlight educationally important features of experience. This idea leads to a curriculum model for cultivating the imaginative meaning of sensory encounters with the world, involving the phases of Orientation, Complication, Transformation and Integration. Consideration of the role of language, along with other tools, in mediating learning within this framework lead to a revised account of imaginative development that places greater weight on the importance and variety of experience. It is suggested that this theoretical approach could enhance conversations between different traditions of experiential education.

Author Biography

Mark Fettes

Mark Fettes is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, and a co-founder of the Imaginative Education Research Group. His research currently focuses on the integration of indigenous and place-based knowledge in imaginative classrooms within mainstream schools, and on the development of an ecological school in Maple Ridge, BC.






Cultural Studies and Curriculum