Monday, July 28, 2008

Imagineering and Childhood Dreams

It's fashionable in some circles to look down on the Walt Disney company and it's many entities (animated films, theme parks, toys, etc.) I've heard people even say Disneyland is too clean, as if being messy or dirty is a virtue.

The fact of the matter is that the Disney Imagineers have been and are some of the most creative people on the planet. If schools were designed and run by Imagineers they too could be among "the happiest places on Earth".

This doesn't mean that schools should be filled with Disney images. Drawing upon the spirit of Imagineering means that schools should develop their own stories and use well-designed images, objects, environments and experiences to enhance the quality of learning and the experience of going to school for everyone - including students, teachers, administrators, and parents. If Walt Disney had done a stint as Secretary of Education we might not be saddled with No Child Left Behind and schools that draw their inspiration from prisons. Instead, schools would be places of curiosity, open-mindedness, and optimism.

If teachers are going to spend their working lives in schools and students are going to spend 12 years of their lives in schools as well, why can't we make schools among the happiest places on Earth? By teaching students how to design and how design can transform the world, we can not only transform schooling and learning in the 21st century, but, when students graduate, they will continue to help design and create the safest, most optimistic, and most enchanting places on the planet for everyone to work, live, learn, and play.

It's an hour long but, if you click on the heading above, you can watch the inspiring "Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch (above right) (when he knew he only had months to live). He died in July, 2008. Randy's life was inspired by his childhood dream of being an Imagineer. I think Randy might have had the right idea.

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