Submitted by Chris Lima

to University College Plymouth St Mark & St John as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Education by advanced study in Education (special field: Trainer Development – English Language Teaching), September 2009.

I certify that all the material in this dissertation which is not my own work has been identified and that no material is included for which a degree has previously been conferred upon me.

Plymouth, September 2009


This study is an investigation of the place of imagination in EFL teacher education. It begins with a brief analysis of the presence and absence of overt references to imagination in mainstream EFL professional literature, in ELT international conferences and in the syllabuses of some Initial Teacher Education programmes. It moves on into a discussion of the Western philosophical understandings of imagination along history and how these systems of thoughts, and the status they give to it, influence approaches to imagination in teacher education. This study also considers the imagination in its connections with notions of knowledge and reflective practices in professional development. Most importantly, it proposes to give imagination a central role in the process of achieving change in teacher education. It concludes with an examination of how the use of metaphors and narratives can positively contribute to the change process and help EFL teachers to develop professionally.

In times when terms like ‘lifelong education’, ‘change theory’, ‘reflective practice’ and ‘information society’ seem to have become widespread concepts, it is the aim of this study to propose an approach to English language teacher education that reviews technicist and managerial practices. This study proposes to bring the discussion of our understanding of human imagination to the training room and considers possible ways of helping teachers to see the implications of adopting different attitudes towards imagination. It is based on the belief that imagination has a fundamental role to play in the construction of our understanding of ELT teacher education and in the establishment of the principles of our professional practice.


...imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name

A Midsummer Night’s Dream V.i.14-17


For Eduardo, my son


Table of Contents
Page Abstract Dedication Table of Contents List of Figures List of Abbreviations Introduction 2 4 5 7 8 9

CHAPTER ONE. Background and Contexts Introduction 1. Publications 1.1 Resource books 1.2 Books for teachers 1.3 Journals and academic publications 2. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) 3. TESOL Initial Teacher Education (ITE) 3.1 Diploma courses 3.2 Undergraduate courses Summary 12 13 14 15 18 20 21 21 22 24

CHAPTER TWO. Understandings of Imagination Introduction 1. A general view of imagination 1.1 Imagination and creativity 1.2 Imagination, subjectivity and reality 2. A story of imagination in the West 2.1 Pre-modern imagination: from Ancient to Medieval times 2.2 Modern imagination: from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment 2.3 Romantic imagination: from Georgian to Victorian times 2.4 Postmodern imagination: from the 20th century to present times 3. Theory and Practice 3.1 Pre-modern imagination and the didactic model 25 25 26 27 31 31 35 38 40 41 42


3.2 Modern imagination and the scientific approaches 3.3 Romantic imagination and humanistic approaches 3.4 Postmodern imagination and new trends in teacher education Summary

44 46 46 47

CHAPTER THREE. Teachers’ Imagination Introduction 1. Imagination and knowledge 2. Imagination and reflection 3. Imagination and change Summary 48 51 54 57 61

CHAPTER FOUR. Exercising Imagination Introduction 1. Some principles 2. Metaphors 3. Narratives 3.1 Teachers’ narratives 3.2 Literature Summary 62 63 64 67 68 70 73



List of Appendices Appendix A: Major schools of though and their influences on teacher education Appendix B: Literary references Appendix C: A metaphor for the EFL classroom Appendix D: This is my story: teachers’ biographies Appendix E: Film narratives: Mona Lisa Smile Appendix F: Novel narratives: Hard Times 76 78 81 83 85 87




List of Figures
Page Figure 1: Academic Publications. Search: Imagination. Figure 2: Imaginative and creative content in presentations at IATEFL Annual Conferences. Figure 3: Examples of manifestations of teacher trainers’ imagination along the object-subject axes. Fig. 4: The human thinking tree Fig. 5: The teacher education tree. Fig. 6. Using literature in teacher education - some working principles. 49 50 72 30 19 20


List of Abbreviations


Anno Domini (Christian Era) Bachelor of Arts Britain, Australasia and North America countries Bachelor of Education Before Christ Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults The Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Continuing Professional Development Cambridge University Press English as a Foreign Language English Language Teaching English Language Teaching Journal English as a Second Language International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language


Initial Teacher Education University College Plymouth St Mark & St John Master of Education Oxford University Press Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul Teachers’ Associations Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages Universidade Federal de Santa Maria



Once upon a time,
Every piece of writing has a story; even when this story is not explicitly told and the beginning, middle and end are not so easily identifiable. My first act in writing this study began before writing itself and was an attempt to identify the origins of my choice of a topic. I could distinguish three sources which I broadly equate with my cultural background and professional dissatisfaction. To elucidate these points I believe I have to tell some of these stories.

In 1964 the Military seized the power in Brazil. I grew up in a country where freedom of speech was seen as tantamount to insurrection, where books were suspicious things that no law-abiding citizen should deal with - unless they were granted official approval. The State provided the prescribed books we used at school; the Catholic Church provided the interpretation of the Bible at Sunday mass. It would be a happy life were it not for the fact that the public library was quite near my school and one day I found out that there were other books besides those ones I had at school. They were not censored because they were ‘Classics’ and, therefore, had a good and traditionally established reputation. Not even the Military would dare to censor Dante, Shakespeare, Austen or even Dickens; not because they respected them, but probably because they were not smart enough to perceive the threat in them. It was just literature, after all. When I was about 11, I used to spend my afternoons reading in the library because, obviously, you could not take books home. Too dangerous. Of course, I did not know these things at the time and my comments now are tinted by hindsight. In my childhood and teenage years, I was completely oblivious to the political climate around me. I was neither a revolutionary nor a ‘Communist’, which was considered a public insult. I just wanted to read stories because they appealed to my imagination. But, indeed, what a dangerous thing a library is. Once you are in there one book takes you to another, stories take you to poems, poems take you to other stories and everything falls into a network of connections that may set your imagination on fire.


When I started my career in English Language Teaching (ELT) in the early 1990s, the years of Military rule and censorship were well behind us; we were now enjoying the ‘delights’ of democracy, cultural consumerism and globalisation. I thought I would find a professional environment that would take me back to ‘the library’ but this time with a licence to read and think. I thought I would find an environment where teachers read and discussed things, made connections between what they read and what they practiced. After all, all my colleagues at the schools where I worked had a formal teacher training background and had studied literature, psychology, pedagogy and methodology at university. I supposed that I would be entering a world where people would creatively put all these things together. What I found was an environment where the coordinators provided the prescribed books we used in the classroom and the teacher trainers provided the ‘acceptable’ ELT methodology in the Friday afternoon meetings. Imagination in teaching was either not mentioned, or relegated to the use of games in language learning. Things had not changed much in 30 years after all.

My interest in the place and role of imagination in teacher education comes partially from my personal history and greatly from my dissatisfaction with the

compartmentalised, piece-meal approach to teacher education followed in most contexts, where ‘modules’ in teacher training programmes are disconnected from each other and dissociated from the larger body of other subjects in the ‘humanities’, such as literature and the arts. My perception is that there is still a most unnatural rift between imagination, knowledge and practice that starts in teacher education programmes and extends throughout the professional literature in ELT into classroom practice. My interest in imagination also springs from a somehow aesthetic need to be involved by what I perceive as the beauty of images and words. I cannot dissociate my personal life and my professional practice from manifestations of creative imagination and even though I do not have the pretention to say that the present study is in any way particularly creative, imaginative and aesthetically pleasing as a piece of writing, I felt the need to write about something that referred to these aspects of experience in my field of knowledge, thus the choice of imagination in English language teacher education as the topic of this study.


In Chapter One of my study I shall look at some EFL materials published by major international publishers, ELT international conference programmes and the syllabuses of some Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes to detect the presence or absence of overt discussions of imagination in ELT teacher education.

In Chapter Two I will take a brief look at some understandings of imagination from a historical and philosophical point of view and how these different understandings of the nature of imagination, truth and self have influenced Western conceptions of knowledge, identity and our place in the world. Moreover, I shall take a closer look at the connections between theories of imagination and the current principles underlining teacher education in order to establish some connections between these concepts and some educational views and practices.

Chapter Three will examine how philosophical and historical understanding of imagination influence the way we conceive the sort of knowledge EFL teachers should have, how it interacts with reflective practices and also analyse the role imagination has to play in educational change processes.

Chapter Four will deal with some practical aspects related to the implementation of a more imaginative approach to teacher education and how imaginative and creative material can be brought into the language learning and teacher education equation. From Greek myths to fairy tales, from Star Wars and computerised worlds, human imagination has invented and reinvented itself and its manifestations can be explored in the use of metaphors and narratives. The Appendices aim at providing further information about the mentioned historical periods and philosophical systems (A), as well as on the literary works quoted or referred to in this study (B). They also provide some sample activities using metaphors (C), teachers’ biographies (D) and fictional narratives (E-F), which can be used in teacher education courses and/or workshops.



Background and Contexts
The mind that thought of light, heavy, grey, yellow, still, swift, also conceived the magic that would make heavy things light and able to fly, turn grey lead into yellow gold, and the still rock into swift water. Tolkien, J.R.R. (1964)


Room 170 was quite a world apart. If you had the opportunity to enter it during the time when we were having our Masters in Education (MEd) in Trainer Development sessions you would probably be surprised to see that the walls were covered in posters with photos and drawings of golf courses, mountains, rainbows, dolphins and cauldrons. What is really interesting about it is that the posters were the products of our discussions during the sessions. They were individual, group and/or collective productions that represented our metaphors, concepts and understandings of English language teaching and learning, and which we proudly displayed on the walls. Incomplete as it is, this description of our training room may help you to see the extent to which our MEd programme was based on imagination, creativity and the participants’ personal contributions to the training process. My own previous experience with formal English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher education programmes and academic work, however, equated learning only with heavy reading and vigorous scholarly debate. That there would also be a place for metaphors and drawings in my MEd course came as sheer novelty to me.

In order to try to understand where these perceptions and expectations came from, I shall begin this analysis of the presence or absence of discussions of imagination in EFL teacher education by looking at three major areas: (a) professional publications, (b) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events, and (c) Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes.



My previous experience with professional literature is very likely one of the sources of my surprise in seeing imaginative activities integrated into my MEd course. Most titles on my own professional bookshelf cover matters such as methodology, phonology, semantics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, skills development, classroom management and a couple of resource books with ready-to-use activities and photocopiable material. I do not recall any specific title on imagination and creativity as part of my pre-MEd English Language Teaching book collection, even though some works on literature in language learning (Brumfit, 1986; Collie and Slater, 1987; Lazar, 2003, McRae, 1991; Brumfit, 2001) and discourse analysis (Cook, 1994) do bring notions of imagination embedded in their content.

ELT publishing is a profitable and thriving industry with hundreds of titles already published and with new book launches on regular basis. The market is largely dominated by major international publishers, which in the UK are often associated with traditional ancient universities and in the US are divisions of major publishing companies. Teachers all over the world have access to ELT publications, from textbooks to resource books and books for teachers, and use such material as course syllabuses, sources of practical ideas and professional development reading. Thanks to vigorous marketing, a widespread network of representatives and a system of sponsorships for Teachers Associations (TAs) events and conferences, major publishing houses make their products available to a large number of teachers and schools all over the world and dominate the ELT publishing market. Such dominance and the market forces that determine the sort of material published are seen by some ELT educators as factors that lead, particularly in the case of coursebooks, to the dissemination of predetermined cultural and educational values (Canagarajah, 1999: 104), a certain determinism of goals and content (Allwright, 1990: 133-5) and a process of reproduction of content where originality is frequently lost (Thornbury and Meddings, 2001: 12). Although coursebooks are not the focus of this study, it does not seem implausible to extend the same critical view to other kinds of ELT publications. Nonetheless, because of their significant influence with both language teachers and teacher trainers, and their well-established international reputation, the examination of the catalogue of major ELT publishers can give us an idea of the current status and state 13

of imagination and creativity in ELT circles. I have restricted my ‘field’ research to the titles available at the language library at the University College Plymouth St Mark and St John (Marjon) and to the online catalogue of major European publishers because these are the main sources of EFL literature I refer to for my own professional development and the sources of materials I use in my own teaching practice. My findings are by no means exhaustive but they may shed some light on our discussion of imagination in teacher education.

We could divide EFL professional publications into three broad categories: (a) resource books, i.e., supplementary materials which supply teachers with ready-to-use activities for their lessons, (b) books for teachers, i.e., titles on linguistics, research, methodology and trends in language teaching and learning, and (c) journals and academic publications.

1.1 Resource books

Although books with ready-to-use activities, or resource books, are considered as ‘supplementary’ material - and therefore devoid of the status of ‘essential’ publications enjoyed by mainstream coursebooks - they are by and large very popular among publishers and EFL practitioners. There is plenty of material available for teachers who want to use activities that explore the imaginative, creative side of their English language learners. A general search on Resource Books yields a result of nineteen titles at Marjon’s language library catalogue, including books with activities using songs, stories, roleplay, poetry and project work, most of them destined to teachers working with children and young learners. Eight out of twenty-eight titles in the very popular Oxford University Press (OUP) series of Resource Books for Teachers

( are devoted to poetry, drama and improvisation, film, images, music, roleplay and story telling. Ten out of the fortytwo titles in the Cambridge University Press (CUP) series Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers (

cover topics such as drama, extensive reading, literature, poetry, folktales, humour, games and images. The CUP photocopiable series also brings titles on grammar and vocabulary games, multimedia, imaginative projects and metaphors. Helbling 14

Publishers have one title on each of the following: writing stories, creative writing and the use of images (


Some titles can serve as examples of how imagination and creativity seem to be considered important elements in language learning. Bassnett and Grundy’s (1993) Language Through Literature, brings a series of activities based on the awareness of differences in language and literary genres. Exercises experiment with a wide variety of reading approaches to text, for instance, predicting, grouping, assessing, translating, visualising, associating text and personal experience. Writing activities include shape poems, collaborative writing, text creative rewriting and performance of texts created by learners themselves. Duff and Maley’s (1989) The Inward Ear, is a series of activities to use poetry in the language classroom. It advocates for the universality, non-triviality, motivation and tolerance to error and ambiguity developed by poetry readers. Activities are based on personal associations, use of pictures, creative writing and speaking. More recently, Arnold, Putcha and Rinvolucri’s (2007) Imagine That! stresses the importance of mental imagery in the cognitive process of language learning and provides activities to work with both artwork and music.

1.2 Books for Teachers

In very striking contrast with the number of titles on storytelling, drama and multimedia published as supplementary materials, the search for imaginative content in the Books for Teachers category yielded very poor and disappointing results. Considering the number of ‘creative’ supplementary materials titles compared to the ones dealing with aspects of imagination in language learning and teacher education, we may be led to believe that publishers and teachers give priority to teaching recipes over the quest for information and inspiration when reading professional literature. Palgrave Macmillan online catalogue of books for teachers has one title on literature in ELT, Hall’s (2005) Literature in Language Education. CUP has one title on extensive reading in The Cambridge Language Education Series, Day and Bramford’s (1998) Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom. OUP has one title in the Applied Linguistic series, Cook’s (2000) Language Play, Language Learning. I did not find 15

titles dealing with imagination associated with discussions of language and knowledge in the applied linguistics catalogue of either of the two major Universities Presses. It seems to be a trend in ELT publishing that the exploration of imagination, creativity and the arts in language learning must be pursued and that teachers should be provided with a good supply of add-on material to use music, drawings, poetry, drama and role play in the language classroom. However, the same does not happen when it comes to professional reading. Articles and books dealing with the principles and implications of understanding and exercising imagination are few and scattered. The whole message seems to be that imagination is an important component of learning a language but does not have any substantial contribution to make to the formation of teachers as professionals. Some of the best-sellers in ELT teacher training literature, especially titles published in the 1990s, have a strongly analytic, objectivist, technical rationalist approach to teacher education. These texts reflect the historical supremacy of communicative language teaching at the time and the dominance of the knowledge and skill development model, where the aim is to create ‘a teaching force that is more skilled and flexible in its teaching strategies and more knowledgeable about its subject matter’ (Hargraves and Fullan, 1992: 2). Doff’s (1998) Teach English, a ‘classic’ in the teacher training literature, is basically concerned with teaching and class management skills and even though imagination is potentially emergent in some activities proposed, such as the improvisation of dialogues and interviews based on texts, Doff’s focal point is definitely the development of practical teaching skills. Ur’s (1996) A Course in Language Teaching, another ‘classic’, provides ready-made training sessions on all main aspects of ELT practice. Activities cover presentation techniques, testing, the teaching of grammar and vocabulary, pronunciation, four skills, planning and classroom interaction, but once again the approach is exclusively objectivist and activities are based on brainstorming, evaluation of materials, and analysis of sample language and classroom situations. The use of computers, story books, video, audio, posters, pictures and games is considered ‘invaluable’ but only ‘for young learners and teachers of children’ (Ur, 1996: 190-1). Another ‘canonical’ text is Harmer’s (1998) How To Teach English, which is still adopted as a key text by many undergraduate courses, such as the TESOL/English Language Teaching BA at the University of Greenwich. It focuses on fundamentals in language acquisition, teaching language skills, and considerations in language management, but once again activities are largely based on objective


‘scientific’ analysis and there are no instances when teachers are invited to discuss the role of imagination in language teaching.

Conversely, some titles such as Woodward’s (2001) Planning Lessons and Courses, do take into account personalisation, exploration of trainee teachers’ feelings, styles and preferences. Although most activities are still based on factual information, situation analysis, mini-case studies and sample of teaching materials, there are some activities with a definite potential for imaginative work such as the ones based on teachers’ biographies, and responses to literature, where participants are encouraged to create a work of their own. In Malderez and Bodoczky’s (1999) Mentor Courses: A Resource Book for Trainer-Trainers, metaphors are frequently used in activities proposed to participants, who are invited to create and explore their own images of teaching and learning. Malderez and Wedell’s (2007) Teaching Teachers, gives a privileged place to stories, personal narratives and game play in the process of educating teachers. James’ (2001) Teachers in Action, is a collection of materials and tasks for in-service training with activities focusing on personal experience, analysis of professional discussion of key concepts and terminology and summary of professional articles. Tasks are based on conceptual maps, questionnaires and interviews, opinion sharing and matching exercises. There is one task involving the use of metaphor; however, the metaphor is given to participants instead of being elicited from them. Scrivener’s (2005: 360) Learning Teaching, almost falls into the category of resource books for teachers, but proposes a more principled discussion of the use of drama, simulations, guided improvisation and poetry as a way to stimulate teachers to see, hear and think of linguistic points beyond ‘predictable textbook examples.’ Wright and Bolitho’s (2007) Trainer Development clearly points to a significant change towards a more personalised approach to teacher education, where metaphors, games and drawings are used to help participants to make sense of their experience and unpack their beliefs and perceptions about teaching and learning. Important and relevant as they are, these books, however, still represent a very tiny fraction in the EFL catalogues of books for teachers which are dominated by titles on applied linguistics, research and different aspects of classroom management.


1.3 Journals and academic publications

No account of ELT professional reading would be significant without considering articles from the ELT Journal ( A search for ‘imagination’ in the entire ELT Journal Online Archive since 1946 produced a result of 308 items. The search for ‘creativity’ resulted in 165 items, including articles, comments and reviews. However, these articles do not deal specifically with imagination in teacher training but are mostly concerned with creative ways of teaching literature in ELT. A few examples are Elliot’s (1990) ‘Encouraging reader-response to literature in ESL situations’; Ghosn’s (2002) ‘Four good reasons to use literature in primary school ELT’ and Ross’ (1991) ‘Literature and Film’.

A survey of the articles published at the TESOL Quarterly between 1986 and 2005 on topics related to imagination and creativity resulted in three articles on the use of literature in second language learning, one article on the use of roleplay (Heath, 1993), one article on the use of comic strips (Liu, 2004) and one on metaphorical competence in language learning (Littlemore, 2001). I did not find any articles with overt reference to imagination and/or creativity in neither in language learning nor in teacher education.

On creative uses of language in everyday communication and its implications to language teaching and learning we have Carter and McCarthy’s (2004) ‘Talking, creating: interactional language, creativity and context’ published in the Oxford Applied Linguistics Journal and also Prodromou’s (2007) ‘Bumping into creative idiomacity’ published in English Today. Apart from mainstream ELT publications it is important to highlight the existence of The Journal of Imagination in Language Teaching and Learning which was published from 1993 to 2003 and which ‘is concerned with theoretical and practical relationships between the imagination and the acquisition of first and subsequent languages.’ The contents of the six volumes are now available online ( Among the 117 articles published there, it is worth mentioning Moskovitz’s (1994: online) ‘Humanistic Imagination: Soul Food for the Language Class,’ where she argues for the importance of ‘setting examples of creativity’ among teachers themselves and the debate Is TESOL an art or a Science?, moderated by Nunan


with arguments and comments in a series of articles by Shohamy, Widdowson, LarsenFreemanm, and Tucker ( As for academic publications, crossing the words ‘imagination’, ‘creativity’ and ‘education’ at Marjon’s library online catalogue, we can obtain a total of 26 titles, most of them devoted to primary education. Search for ‘imagination’ alone produced a total of 163 titles. Even more impressive numbers were found in the online catalogues of major academic publishers (Fig. 1); however, such works are not connected with language teacher education or language learning; instead they focus on other knowledge fields such as general education, cognitive sciences, visual arts, literature, history and philosophy. Imagination remains by and large out of the language teacher education realm.


No of titles found in the publishers’ entire online catalogues

Oxford University Press Cambridge University Press Routledge Palgrave-Macmillan Open University Press Figure 1: Academic Publications. Search: Imagination.

333 82 60 35 11

The way the content and ideas advanced in books and articles are disseminated among ELT practitioners is mainly through teacher education programmes, courses, workshops, seminars and conferences which are sponsored and supported by major publishers. Therefore, teacher education events and programmes will be the focus of the next section.



Disputable as it may be in terms of long term results, sustainability and impact (Lamb, 1995: 78-9) and cultural appropriateness (Leather, 2001:232), attendance at short

courses, talks and workshops in conferences is still an important and stimulating part of ELT professional life for most teachers and teacher trainers (Beaven, 2009: 8). Conferences organised by TAs usually attract a fairly good number of delegates and a flow of ELT professionals linked to the publishing industry, education providers, e.g. colleges and universities, and institutions interested in the promotion of English around the world, such as the British Council. An interesting way to see how much currency imagination has among ELT professionals who participate in such events is to look at conference programmes. Because of the scope and importance of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL), and also because this is the Teachers’ Association which is most influential in my own professional context, the objects of my investigation are the programmes of the 2005-09 Annual Conferences. IATEFL Annual Conferences involve a 3.5 or 4-day programme of over 300 talks, workshops and symposiums (hppt:// Considering these five consecutive years we can see that there are an increasing number of presentations related to classroom techniques and activities using songs, drama, storytelling, literature, images, and also the virtual worlds of Second Life and electronic games (Fig. 2). It is worth noticing that at Cardiff 2009 there was a symposium especially devoted to Art in ELT. However, there were no presentations on the possible role of imagination and creativity in teacher education, with the possible exception of Littlewood’s ‘Metaphors for teachers in Cambodia and Hong Kong’, also at Cardiff 2009.

Presentations related to imaginative, creative content Cardiff 2005 Harrogate 2006 Aberdeen 2007 Exeter 2008 Cardiff 2009

No (out of approx. 300) 10 14 13 11 24

Figure 2. Imaginative and creative content in presentations at IATEFL Annual Conferences.


It is quite clear that the pattern observed in the publishing industry is similar to the one related to the content of presentations, i.e., there seems to be a consensus about the need to discuss and produce imaginative and creative material for language teaching and learning but there is little or no interest in a discussion of the role of imagination in the development of teachers themselves. The scope of this study does not allow me to investigate the programmes of other major conferences around the world but, considering my experience attending ELT conferences in Latin America, I very much suspect that the picture would be comparable to the one we find at IATEFL.


It remains to investigate if the same tendency is present at ITE programmes. It is virtually impossible to draw accurate conclusions about it due to the overwhelming number of undergraduate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) courses being taught at education colleges and universities around the world. What we can do is to look at the syllabuses of some of these courses in the hope that this will reveal some general trend in some specific contexts. The contexts I chose are the ones I feel more familiar with, that is, the international TESOL diploma courses, the Bachelor of Education (BEd) syllabus at Marjon and the TESOL Bachelor of Arts (BA) syllabus of two Brazilian universities in the region of the country where I come from. Once again, it is important to emphasise that with such a small sample we cannot infer that the same pattern is present in other ITE courses around the world. The examples here serve just as illustrations of the reality with which I have professional contact.

3.1 Diploma Courses

The market of TESOL short diploma courses is unquestionably dominated by the Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) and the Trinity College Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL) (Barduhn and Johnson, 2009: 62). Both are introductory courses for candidates who have little or no previous English Language teaching experience or candidates with some teaching experience but little previous training. These courses are 21

usually taken by both English native speakers who want to obtain a quick qualification to teach English abroad and non-native speaker EFL teachers who seek to obtain an internationally recognised qualification to improve their career prospects. There is quite a lot of controversy and criticism regarding the efficiency and suitability of such courses to prepare people to teach EFL (Brandt, 2006; Ferguson and Donno, 2003), but it is undeniable that they can provide some training where otherwise none would be given and that they can be a first step towards further later and more mainstream academic teaching qualifications.

Once again the knowledge and skill development model of teacher education is embodied in the concern for the development of micro-teaching skills, with emphasis on presentation skills and classroom management techniques, which reveals the strong influence of competency-based training. This is in turn coupled with a marked tendency towards analysis and reproduction of supposedly effective teaching practices and focus on knowledge of and about the English language. There is no reference in the courses handbooks to the exercise of imagination and/or creativity by the trainee teacher. Moreover, the use of language, especially in the Cambridge CELTA programme (, is quite revealing in this aspect, since the verbs that are most frequently used in the list of learning outcomes are ‘identify’ and ‘demonstrate.’

3.2 Undergraduate courses

At the moment, there are over fifty undergraduate Malaysian students at Marjon who come to the UK for two years as part of their 4-year BEd Teaching English Second Language (TESL)/Primary Programme sponsored by the Malaysian Ministry of Education. When I explained the topic of this study to one of my friends doing this course she looked clearly puzzled and asked, ‘But at this age and doing a BEd are we supposed to deal with imagination in our own courses? Isn’t this for young learners? Her reaction and her views of the role of imagination are not different from the experiences and expectations I had on the matter myself, and which I mentioned in the introduction to this chapter. Somehow, at some point in our educational lives someone apparently draws a line separating the territories of imagination and creativity and 22

‘serious’ learning (Fisher, 1990: 30). Imagination is seen as being for young learners, whereas adult learning is solely intellectual, analytical, and rational. We will deal with the philosophical roots and implications of such views in Chapters Two and Three but for now it suffices to say that such perceptions towards a possible place and role of imagination in teacher education are quite common ground in our Western contexts, and apparently in most Eastern ones as well.

I have examined the syllabus of three TESOL undergraduate courses, (a) the Link Degree Project BEd (Hons) TESL/Primary Programme at Marjon, (b) the ‘Licenciatura Dupla em Português e Inglês’ at the ‘Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande to Sul’ (PUCRS) ( ) , and (c) the ‘Licenciatura Letras – Inglês e Literaturas’ at the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM)

( %20LITERATURAS/ ), which is the institution where I studied for my undergraduate degree. All these programmes include foundational modules on methodology of foreign language teaching, the philosophy and psychology of education, classroom studies and research, development of language skills and a practicum. The Brazilian programmes rely heavily on reading and textual production, theories of reading, phonetics, morphology and literary studies.

A serious note of warning is necessary here though. Even with the content of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes excluding overt references to imagination, it does not necessarily follow that the teacher trainers’ approach in class is not imaginative. Teacher trainers working on such courses may well introduce tasks involving imagination and creativity in their own sessions and propose the discussion of such issues in their sessions with their trainee teachers. We have no way of knowing the extent to which imagination is actually present in the everyday sessions of student teachers without an ethnographic study in each of these institutions. Nothing in the Marjon’s MEd programme handbook would ever prepare us for the view of the walls of Room 170. These things are not stated in programmes. They depend on the trainers’ own views and understanding of what is important in teacher education, which makes the whole discussion of the role of imagination in teacher development even more indispensable.



In this chapter I have examined the current state of imagination and creativity in three major areas associated with the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language: professional publications (resource books, books for teachers, journals and academic literature), the programmes of a major international EFL conference and the syllabus of diploma and undergraduate courses in TESOL. I believe it is not so far-fetched to say that even thought there is a considerable concern for providing teachers with the creative and imaginative tools to facilitate language learning, the discussion of the role of imagination in the professional development of teachers themselves is almost entirely forgotten and, perhaps, historically and philosophically neglected. It is the investigation of the reasons for such state of affairs regarding imagination in education that will be subject of our attention in the next chapter.



Understandings of Imagination
The lunatic, the lover and the poet Are of imagination all compact

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare, W. (1988)


Each story has a beginning, a middle and end, and even though these do not necessarily come in this order, I will follow Aristotle’s instructions to tragedy writers in part VII of the Poetics (1996: 38) and start a story of imagination from the beginning. In Chapter One we saw that the current state and status of imagination in EFL circles is something of a luxury. To understand why imagination does not seems to be considered a key element in EFL teacher education we have to begin by looking at how imagination has been viewed in Western philosophical thinking throughout history and how these ways of seeing it have influenced ELT teacher education models. In this chapter we will: (a) inspect the general notions of imagination in its different manifestations, (b) narrate a story of imagination in Western culture as it emerged through history, from ancient biblical and classical myths to contemporary times, and (c) examine how these historical developments in the philosophical understanding of imagination inform the fundamental principles of teacher education models and the place of imagination in each of them.


There is more in the discussion of imagination than meets the eye. The fundamental reason to attempt a study of imagination in teacher education is my firm belief that imagination is not something that is only manifest when teacher trainers use creative 25

material in their sessions or propose tasks which lead participants’ to employ their own imagination and creativity. Imagination is the core principle that defines the way we see the world, how we understand ourselves and how we act in society. Imagination is what shapes human actions and responses to the self and to others, and what enables human beings to communicate and change their world (Bronowsky, 1978: 32-5). Therefore, a discussion of imagination should have an important role in teacher education, since learning to teach necessarily engages the learner in a process of ‘personal meaningmaking’ and in the ‘participation in and membership of a culture of teachers’ (Malderez and Wedell, 2007: 14-15) in particular socio-historical and cultural contexts that are rarely stable .

1.1 Imagination and creativity

At the beginning of this study I frequently referred to both imagination and creativity interchangeably, especially in my consideration of publications, programmes and syllabuses. Now it is time to make a crucial distinction in the way I treat them and justify my decision to devote the remainder of this work to the former, instead of to the latter. Henceforth, I will focus almost exclusively on imagination, in spite of the fact that creativity seems a far more straightforward concept than imagination. ‘To create’ implies an act of producing something new. There seems to be an immediate association of creativity with something practical and tangible that makes it somehow easier to grasp than the so perceived ‘abstract’ flights of imagination. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Carter (2004) has preferred the word ‘creativity’ in his work about everyday language, even when most of the generalisations he makes throughout the book could equally apply to the concept of imagination. Pope (2005) points to the fact that creation

can refer to a product or a process (a ‘creation’ and the ‘activity of creating’) and can be attributed to divine and human agents as well as to nature and the universe at large. (2005: 8) A creative act results in a product and, therefore, it depends fundamentally on an agent. The agent does not necessarily need to be human, since God and nature can be creative agents. Although both Greek and Judaeo-Christian traditions do refer to a metaphysical 26

source of imagination (Moser and Nat, 1995: 36; Stock, 1996: 54), we have never heard or read that God ‘imagined’ the world but that he ‘created’ it. As the Gospel says, ‘In the beginning there was the Word…Through him all things were made’ (John, 1: 1-3). Moreover, we can speak of ‘human imagination’, but we cannot conceive of nature imagining things. According to Fisher (1990),

Creativity is something creative persons use to make creative products. …Creativity is also a collection of attitudes and abilities that lead to a person to produce creative thoughts, ideas or images. (1990: 31) (My italics) Creativity is, by its very linguistic nature, something productive. Carter (2004: 67) also talks about ‘production’ in his differentiation between historical creativity (H-creativity) and personal creativity (P-creativity). Cskszentmihalyi (1996: 6) writes about the three ‘elements’ necessary ‘for a creative idea, product or discovery to take place’ (my italics). All things taken into consideration, my approach here is to treat creativity and the resulting act of creating as the process through which imagination goes in order to originate a new product. From now on, imagination will be at the very centre of this study.

1.2 Imagination, subjectivity and reality

But what does the term ‘imagination’ designate? Strawson (1982: 82) believes that imagination points to three areas of association: (a) the production of mental images, i.e., a ‘picture in the mind’s eye’, (b) the invention and the production of something original and innovative; and (c) the manifestations of ‘false belief, delusion, mistaken memory or misperception.’ In a similar but more in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of imagination Ricoeur (1994; 119-20) identifies four main uses for the term, which broadly relate to Strawson’s categorisation. For him, imagination: (a) evokes ‘things which are absent but which exist elsewhere’, (b) creates images to ‘take the place of things they represent’, (c) invents non-existent things but is conscious of the fictional nature of its creation, and (d) represents non-existent things in the ‘domain of illusion.’ However, Ricoeur does not see the manifestations of human imagination as products packed into these four different boxes as philosophical theories have traditionally wrapped and labelled them. On the contrary, he claims that manifestations of 27

imagination move along two different axes: one with regard to the presence and absence of the object, the other with regard to the consciousness of the subject (Fig.3).

On one extreme of the object axis we have situations and objects that are present and tangible at the moment we refer to them and which we can experience through our senses. We can visualise, hear, touch, smell, taste them. Imagination at this level has the function of reproducing ‘what is there’. For Hume, although imagination is free to a certain extent, it ‘does not always join ideas at random’ (Warnock 1976: 16-17). On the contrary, its freedom is limited by what it sees in the world, for imagination is what transforms impressions of a particular and concrete experience into abstract thought. For instance, the extent to which we can imagine changes in the activities we propose to our learners is highly influenced and restricted by the conditions under which we are working at any given moment. Imagination is what allows us to rethink these situations and constraints and transform them into something similar. An example of reproductive imagination in action is when teacher trainers adapt or modify texts and materials available to them in a given course to suit the training situation at hand with that specific group of participants.

On the other extreme of this same axis, we have the absence of situations and objects or just mere references to them. What we have are just traces of reality in our minds: memories, pictures formed in the ‘inward eye’. Imagination then has to produce what is absent; its function is to refer to the other ‘that is not there’ and in doing so it creates something else. An example of productive imagination is when teacher trainers design new texts and materials to use with a hypothetical group of trainees based on their previous knowledge of other teacher education resources and other groups of teachers they have trained before.

The subject axis refers to the capacity of the person imagining to assume ‘a critical awareness of the difference between the imaginary and the real’ (Ricoeur, 1994: 120). On one pole of the axis we have a heightened critical consciousness of the real and are able to penetrate reality with a critical view. Imagination here is an instrument of critique of reality. An example of critical imagination is when teacher trainers analyse teacher training situations trying to ‘see’ through the behaviour, language and attitudes of participants, the socio-historical and cultural factors that are ‘unobservable’, but 28

which deeply influence what happens in the training room (Wright, 2005: 14-16), and, based on this imaginative insight, adapt materials and approaches to their training context.

On the other pole of this axis, the boundaries between real and imaginary become blurred. This state of indistinctiveness leads to what Ricoeur calls ‘fascinated consciousness’ (Ricoeur, 1994: 120). Its extreme manifestation is schizophrenia under which condition a person completely loses their sense of reality. Nonetheless, a certain degree of fascinated imagination is necessary in life for it is this sort of imagination that allows us to picture different possibilities to those we have previously experienced or are experiencing at the moment. It allows us to imagine possible changes in reality and potential new worlds. Without it, there can be no change. We will return to the role of imagination in educational change in Chapter Three. For now, a practical example of fascinated imagination in a teacher education context is when trainers are able to step into the shoes of participants and try to see their problems and difficulties from their point of view. This is when you try to see things not entirely as yourself but as the other - the boundaries of subjectivity are blurred.

Although Ricoeur did not have education specifically in mind when he wrote his article, let alone EFL teacher education, his concern with discourse, action and commitment to a poetics of ethical ‘historical imagination’ (Kearney, 1988: 393) has profound practical implications for teacher educators. The figure below gives us examples of how moving along Ricoeur’s axes affects our ‘mundane’ business of teaching teachers (Fig. 3). It also helps us to see that philosophical concepts are not simply abstractions but actually inform all our actions. Understanding the historical and theoretical roots of our teacher education practices is a first step in becoming a reflective practitioner (Brookfield, 1995: 36-39) for only when we are able to see the connections between ourselves, our predecessors and successors we can understand the ties that bond us and how we can break or renew them (Ricouer, 1994: 127-8).


Present Reproductive imagination (Representations of sensory experience)

Able to analyse critically materials available and transform them to fit the trainees’ socio-cultural contexts Able to deal critically and creatively with situations at hand in the training context while activities and sessions develop

Able to adapt and modify available texts and materials Able to adapt and modify available activities & procedures Able to propose multiple solutions to familiar problems Able to look at problems and situations at hand from multiple angles

Conscious Critical Imagination (Imagination as critique of reality)


Unconscious Fascinated Imagination (Boundaries between reality and illusion are blurred)

Able to connect training room events with the wider socio-historical, economic and cultural contexts Able to create scenarios for possible courses of actions and analyse possible responses to them before implementation of a plan or syllabus Able to predict participants’ reactions to materials and procedures, playing them in your mind to be able to make better informed decisions

Able to create and develop new texts and materials Able to design and conceive new activities and procedures Able to propose unexpected solutions to familiar and unfamiliar problems Able to predict possible problems and situations and propose multiple and unusual solutions

Absent Productive imagination (Representations of otherness)

Figure 3: Examples of manifestations of teacher trainers’ imagination along the objectsubject axes. (Based on Ricoeur, 1994: 119-20) 30


Some clarification is necessary at this stage about the content of this chapter. Although our main concern will always be aspects related to teacher education, we cannot understand the presence or absence of a discussion of imagination in teacher education without relating it to the disciplines of philosophy, theology, history (Appendix A) and literary studies (Appendix B). Apart from a few ELT titles (Howatt with Widdownson, 2004; Crook, 2009), it is normal to see the story of ELT retold as an orderly succession of methodologies, from grammar-translation to the communicative approach and on to critical pedagogies, without a more careful consideration of how these methods and approaches are influenced by whole systems of thought. Conversely, an examination of the trajectory of imagination in Western thinking can help us to see how such ideas have been influential in our understanding of the relationships between imagination and knowledge in different teaching models and in our classroom management strategies.

The linear chronological approach to a story of imagination adopted in the structure of this narrative does not mean that we should understand the conceptualisation of imagination as a neat progressive sequence, moving from the onto-theological premodern view, through the humanistic modern approach and towards a more nihilistic post-modern interpretation. On the contrary, we should keep in mind that the seeds of a later view of any concept or theory are already sowed in the previous ones, and that there may be people in our post-modern times who still have pre-modern or modern understandings of what imagination is (Kearney, 1988: 19-20) and how it is manifest in our personal lives and in our teacher training theories and practices.

2.1 Pre-modern imagination: from Ancient to Medieval Times

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness Genesis, 1.1.1–26

No narrative of Western imagination can ignore the far-reaching influence of the Adamic myth of creation. This influence extends throughout the history of Western


philosophy: from the Judaeo tradition, to medieval Church scholasticism, well into the 18th century Romantic movement. According to the biblical Book of Genesis, Adam, the first man, was created in God’s image and is, therefore, but a product of His imagination. In fact, the Genesis and the myth of the Garden of Eden can be seen as a narrative of the Fall caused by Adam and Eve’s realisation that human imaginative power could imitate that of their creator. In pursuing the right to exercise a conscious imagination our first parents started seeing the world in terms of opposites – good and evil, past and future, God and man. According to Kearney (1988),

Adam’s transgressive act of imagination represents the alienation of God’s original creation from itself – the splitting up of the pre-lapsarian unity of Paradise into the antithetical orders of divine eternity and human mortality. (1988: 40) From the very beginning, imagination was not a good thing. The biblical creation myth is a cautionary tale about the destructive powers of imagination and how the possession of knowledge has led humanity to shame, guilt and death. Kearney (1988: 39-61) performs an extensive and comprehensive analysis of the Adamic myth and its influence in the constructs of imagination we have developed in the West, both in its negative and positive sides. He summarises the four properties of the Hebraic concept of imagination, as follows,

1. As mimetic (a human imitation of the divine act of creation) 2. As ethical (a choice between good and evil) 3. As historical (a projection of future possibilities of existence) 4. As anthropological (an activity proper to man which differentiates him from both a higher divine order and a lower animal order and which opens up a freedom of becoming beyond the necessity of cosmic being). (1988:53)

As Bruner (1986: 108-9) points out in his discussion of language and reality, from the dawn of Western thought our understanding of imagination and knowledge has been entangled with notions of revelation and faith. Throughout our history we have struggled to either fuse them again or dissociate them for good. It would be to go too far to say that teachers and teacher educators are aware of these influences in their own attitudes towards imagination. The Adamic myth lies deep below the surface of Breen’s


coral gardens (2001: 128) but it does come to the surface in some of our educational practices, as we will see in the discussion of teacher education practices and models.

Neither the Judaeo-Christian nor the Greek traditions have helped imagination to earn a good reputation. Human imagination in both cases is viewed as an act of defiance against a divine established order (Kearney, 1988: 80-4). In the former, it was a Child’s act of disobedience against the Father; in the latter, robbery. The Hellenic understanding of imagination is narrated in the myth of Prometheus where the Titan rebels against Zeus, steals fire from the gods, gives it to the humans and is, accordingly, punished. Prometheus is chained to a rock to have his liver devoured by an eagle, the symbol of Zeus, in an apparently changeable but forever repeating cycle of pain-death-rebirthpain. In giving the fire of the gods to humans Prometheus gave them the means to use their imagination to transform nature and create art. It is quite revealing that in English we can say ‘set one’s imagination on fire.’ According to Kearny,

Hellenic culture has provided Western philosophy, with most of its formative concepts. Along with the biblical tradition of the Judaeo-Christian revelation, the Greek heritage of speculation has exercising and enduring influence, at almost every level, on the development of European civilisation. This influence extends, of course, to the understanding of imagination. (1988: 79) For the Greek philosophers, imagination is deeply connected to knowledge and a discussion of imagination in teacher education needs to take into consideration philosophical views of the interplay between knowledge and imagination. For Plato (427-347 BC) what we see in the world and our knowledge of it is nothing but illusion. We are all chained inside a cave looking at shadows moving on the wall and thinking that what we see is real. The Platonic allegory of the cave in Book VII of the Republic (Plato, 1997: 196) is another tale of a failed human imagination which, as in the traditional Hebrew Talmudic stories of the Golem and in Shelley’s (2004) Gothic novel Frankenstein, produces just a mock version of the divine creation and distorted representations of the transcendental, immutable realm of the pure forms. The sensory world, i.e., the things we can see, hear, touch and taste, are just changeable imaginary inferior versions of the transcendental perfect Being (Abbs, 1996: 41). While reason can uplift the veil of reality and allow us to contemplate truth; ‘imagination is relegated to the most inferior form of human opinion’ (Kearney, 1988: 90).


Aristotle (384-322 BC), another extremely influential Greek philosopher, endorses Plato’s view that truth resides in a metaphysical realm and that knowledge is only of what is immutable. However, for him knowledge of the world can only be acquired through the things we experience through our senses for ‘forms exist in physical objects, not in a Platonic realm independent of the sensory world’ (Moses and Nat, 1995: 36). Aristotle has no problems to accommodate imagination and give it a positive role in society, for he maintains that ideas are not disembodied abstractions but ‘categories of human thought which correspond…to the forms of the real world’ as perceived by our senses and mediated through images (Kearney, 1988: 109) For Aristotle it is the active human mind that, using imagination, is able to make all things, analyse, judge and see the truth beyond the images (Aristotle, 1986: 204).

It is an illusion to think that we can understand Western thought and imagination without acknowledging how it has been largely dominated by a blending of biblical narrative and Greek philosophy and myth (Skirbekk and Gilje, 2001: 3). This peculiar combination of apparently contradictory belief systems only became possible because of the synthesising powers of the imagination of two influential medieval scholars, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. This onto-theological synthesis was not very good news for imagination, though. As Kearny (1988) points out,

The alliance served to deepen the traditional suspicion of imagination: it combined and consolidated a) the biblical condemnation of imagination as transgression of the divine order of Creation…and b) the metaphysical critique of imagination as counterfeit of the original truth of Being. (1988:117) What medieval scholasticism did was to try to amalgamate the two traditions and offer a theory of knowledge, imagination and the self that reconciled the Hebraic belief in the God of Revelation and the Platonic metaphysical understanding of a transcendental source of Being. Augustine (354-430 AD), a Roman-African theologian and philosopher, was heavily influenced by Plato and his theory of imagination conforms to the idea of mimesis. However, unlike Plato who perceived all human narratives as untruthful and deceiving, Augustine was ready to concede that some narratives could help us to achieve self-understanding. In fact, for Augustine knowledge of the world and of the self depends on language because we can only understand ourselves through narrative. However,


Inasmuch as our self-understanding begins and ends with our words, that source of can only exist outside the circle of language - in some metalinguistic and therefore metaphysical realm. (Stock, 1996:54) For Augustine this source of metaphysical superior knowledge is God. If God is the supreme Narrator, the ultimate source of Truth, and human history is an ethically oriented master narrative, interpretation of the Text cannot be a matter of individual opinion. Augustine believed that the problem with narratives is that human imagination may lead different members of an audience to construct different interpretations of a story. As the whole belief system of the Christian faith rests on the words of the biblical narrative, this is a vital point. The solution for this immense potential danger was to restrain imagination. Interpretation of the Word was the prerogative of the prophets and, of course, of the Church theologians like himself. The production of sacred images also had to follow strict canonical rules since images are just notions of the things themselves stored in our memories and to represent the divine they have to be supervised by reason (Augustine, 1998: 186). Following Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century a Dominican priest from Italy, also recognises the importance of images as mediators between the metaphysical source of knowledge (God) and the limited human understanding of it. Imagination has its role as long as it keeps its mimetic and storage functions, and ‘any departure from its mandatory subordination to reason and reality, can only lead to error – and, at worst, satanic pride’ (Kearney 1988: 130). These understandings of knowledge and imagination would have a profound and overwhelming influence in the West for the centuries to come until our present times and constitute the philosophical bases of the didactic model.

2.2 Modern imagination: from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment

The incontestable influence of the onto-theological synthesis of the biblical and Platonic philosophies only started to decline in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of the works of Aristotle, the invention of the printing press and the Reformation, the 16th century religious movement that challenged the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. This period, known as the Renaissance, marks the transition from a pre-modern 35

to a modern understanding of imagination. The well-constructed edifice of JudaeoChristian medieval master narrative started to collapse early in Renaissance times. Plato’s influence started to fade when new translations of Aristotle’s works, preserved in Arabic translations from Greek manuscripts lost at the destruction of the library in Alexandria, became available in Europe. According to Abbs (1996), Aristotle’s works sowed the seeds of rationalism that was to emerge after the Renaissance and laid the foundations of empirical science, continually insisting that every hypothesis be tested by all the available evidence and recognising the need for constant collection and systematic classification. (1996: 38)

Furthermore, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular and the reproduction of the text, made possible by the invention of the mechanical printing press by Gutenberg around 1439, changed fundamentally the relationship between the text, the author and the reader. It is little wonder that so many lives and reputations were at stake, in both senses, because of the translation of the Bible. If God’s words could be translated into other languages, the natural connection between word, symbol and meaning would be forever broken. What is more, if anyone could read it and reproduce it, it meant that anyone could potentially interpret it without depending on the Church’s official exegesis. What Gutenberg (1398-1468), Martin Luther (1483-1546)) and the Tudor scholar William Tyndale (1494 – 1536), who produced the first translation of the Bible into Early Modern English, did was to subvert a 1,500-year hierarchy of knowledge and to set Europe’s imagination on fire (Greenblatt, 1984: 74-114). This was a period of visible changes and, as Appleby et al (1996) put it,

Somewhere between Galileo Galilei’s looking into his telescope and European investors pouring money and slaves into the commercial cultivation of sugar in the West Indies, the modern era began. (1996: 3) This era ‘officially’ lasted until the German philosopher Kant (1724-1804) announced that the ‘use of one’s reason’ should be free and ‘it alone’ could ‘bring about enlightenment among men’ (Kant, 1996: 107). Classical modern philosophers rejected Aristotelian rationalism, which dominated late medieval and renaissance times, and instead proclaimed that


knowledge of reality is obtained through the direct awareness of the forms that constitute the essence of the objects of senses. They replaced that view with the position that we indirectly represent the world through sense experience and conceptualisation. (Moser and Nat, 1995: 109) (Emphasis on the original) For the French philosopher Descartes (1596-1650), and other modern philosophers after him, the long-standing problem to be solved above all others was ‘the relation between ideas in my head and things which apparently are not in my head but in the outside world’ (Warnock 1976: 13). For Descartes absolute mathematical certainty about the world, achieved ‘by long chains of simple and easy reasonings’ (Descartes, 1998: 11), is the only form of knowledge that is worth pursuing. Furthermore, in Descartes’ philosophy, also called Cartesian rationalism, there is no correspondence between the physical and the symbolic worlds - the traditional symbols that connected nature and man and regulated life should be erased and replaced by a new scientific view of the world. If there is no place for symbols in the rationalistic dualistic division between nature and human, it follows that neither the arts nor imagination have a role in the task of understanding the world. And nor, by inference, in understanding and promoting teacher education, which becomes thus a matter of training teachers to reproduce tested and approved methods and techniques whose efficiency can be easily measured.

Even partaking with rationalism the belief that knowledge can be verifiable through reason and science, the English empiricism of Locke (1632-1704) and Hume (17111776) differs from rationalism to the extent that it has a role for imagination in the process of trying to comprehend reality. Hume, a Scottish philosopher, economist and historian, defines ideas as images and ‘regards imagination, the image-making faculty, as playing a crucial role in our thinking’ since imagination has an ‘essential role’ in forming the belief that objects exist in the world even when we are not experiencing them through our senses. For him, ‘imagination enters into our most ordinary perception of the world’ (Warnock, 1976:15-21). Kant, writing in the late Enlightenment (18th century), believed that the world existed in a place and time outside ourselves and that it is empirical imagination that makes us associate the objects in the external world with our previous (a priori) internal knowledge of them. Kant (2003: 91-4) states that it is imagination which is responsible for organising the totally chaotic and disorganised world of sensory experience and synthesising it to our abstract concepts or thoughts. For the liberal Enlightenment philosophers, imagination was thus the servant of reason.


Reaction against rationalistic, empiricist views of knowledge and imagination did not take long to come and, unsurprisingly, it came in the voice of two English poets, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). Their Romantic view of imagination is as opposed in nature to rationalism as the humanistic approach to education is to the competency-based, managerial approach to teacher education.

2.3 Romantic imagination: from Georgian to Victorian Times He holds him with his glittering eye – The wedding guest stood still, And listens like a three year’s child: The Mariner hath his will. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Coleridge, S. T (1848)

It is the light in the Mariner’s glittering eye that makes the wedding guest stop and hear the story and, as the wedding guest, we are also hooked by the poet’s imagination which sheds his light on our own imagination. For if the metaphor for the classical and early modern imagination is a mirror that ‘reflects and re-presents some other reality’; the metaphor for the Romantic imagination is the lamp that ‘generates and radiates its own heat and light’ (Pope, 2005: 15-16). ‘The Rime’ was published in the Lyrical Ballads, a collection of Wordsworth and Coleridge’ poems, whose 1800 edition’s Preface is actually a poetic manifesto that marks the official beginning of Romanticism. It is beyond the scope of this study to analyse the profound significance of the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge for both literature and literary criticism, but we cannot proceed with a discussion of imagination without considering their enormous contribution and historical relevance to our understanding of imagination. In the

Preface, Wordsworth states that ‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ (Wordsworth and Coleridge, 2005: 307). For the Romantics, the poet is the major generational locus of art, and poetry is the ‘internal impulse’ of feeling made external and ‘embodying the combined product of the poet’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings’ (Abrams, 1953: 21-2). Whereas rationalism and empiricism hold that reality is outside, in the matter-of-fact objective observable world, Coleridge insists that ‘the poet’s eye is not the observer’s eye, but the mind’s eye’, which is ‘directed inwards’ 38

(McGrann, 1989: 240). For Coleridge, imagination is some sort of energy working inside the individual that enables him/her to see in the external world some meaning that is not in the object or in the symbol themselves. Meaning is not there to be discovered and chartered; meaning is given to reality by the power of active imagination. Individual imagination, because of its ‘synthetic and magical’ ‘combining power’ (Coleridge, 1985: 295), is able to create by itself a ‘significant universe and to some limited extent grasp those ideas of reason which inform whatever we see and hear’ (Warnock, 1976: 83-97). In his most controversial and most quoted passage on

imagination, Coleridge establishes a direct connection between the creative power of a transcendental Creator and human imagination. It reads,

The IMAGINATION then I consider either as primary or secondary. The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a representation in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet as identical with the primary, and differing only in degree and in mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate…It is essentially vital, even if all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. (Coleridge, 1985: 304) For Coleridge, the primary imagination is the power that holds everything together and enables us to apprehend objects in nature according to a transcendental reference point. It is primary imagination that allows humans to ‘re-enact God’s original and eternal creative moment’ whereas secondary imagination is what ‘revitalizes that world’ (Wordsworth, 1985: 25) making it anew. Secondary imagination is ‘that power of mind that allows us to summon images’ (McFarland, 1985: 121) whether a correspondent external object is present or not and allow us to transform, deconstruct and recreate. Although Coleridge’s description of primary imagination is all grandiose, it is the secondary that actually has precedence over the primary, because it is the work of secondary imagination that ‘transforms the fixed objects in the full freedom of artistic invention’ (Kearney, 1988: 184).

Romanticism tried to blend the pre-modern belief in a metaphysical source of imagination to a new acquired belief in the power of humans to shape nature and their world, but it does so placing individual subjectivity where rationalism and empiricism had previously placed objective reality, at the centre of the process. As romanticism was


a reaction to the extremes of the objectivism, excess of subjectivity and focus on the individual as the sole source of meaning led philosophers at the beginning of the twentieth century to start questioning the very concept of subjective identity. Such speculations are the foundation of the deconstruction of self and the advent of the postmodern concepts of imagination. In ELT education, post-modern understandings of imagination are translated into the emergence of critical pedagogies.

2.4 Postmodern imagination: from the 20th century to present times

The modern eighteen and nineteenth centuries’ optimism and confidence in the supremacy of human imagination over nature and its belief in the ability of science and technology to create progress and prosperity (Claxton, 1999: 122) did not survive the twentieth century. It was shattered by two World Wars, the Holocaust, the creation of the atomic bomb and the Cold War (Schön, 1983:4). It also created an era of consumerism; mass reproduction of ‘art’ and manipulation of images (Barthes, 1977). For postmodern philosophers the individual is no longer the origin of imagination because individual imagination is nothing more than an amalgam of ideas conveyed by the media and by new technologies that create and manipulate image and language, which are but copies of each other without a single original point of reference. The metaphors of the mirror and the lamp to describe the pre-modern and the modern visions of imagination are then replaced by the metaphor of the labyrinth of looking glasses to describe the postmodern ‘parodic imagination.’ As Kearney (1988) puts it,

Deprived of the concept of origin, the concept of imagination itself collapses. For imagination always presupposed the idea of origination: the derivation of our images from some original presence. … The postmodern paradigm is, in other words, that of a labyrinth of mirrors which extend infinitely in all directions – a labyrinth where the image of the self (as a presence to itself) dissolves in self-parody. (1988: 253) Postmodern imagination is a tale of many deaths. Obviously, the first one to die, already in late nineteenth century, was God himself (Nietzsche, 1961: 297) and with him the idea of the Judaeo-Christian and Greek metaphysical sources of imagination and Coleridge’s ‘infinite I AM’. Second in line was the Romantic subject who was eroded by the advent of psychology in late Victorian times, splitting what was believed to be a 40

single human identity into the conscious and unconscious parts of the self (Freud, 2007; Homer, 2005). Moreover, what we understood by individual subjectivity – ideas, feelings, beliefs, desires – was then described by the Marxist philosopher Althusser (1918-1990) as the mere product of the economic structure and politico-cultural superstructures prevailing in the historical context where the individual lives (Montag, 2003). Coleridge’s ‘finite mind’ was, therefore, definitely pronounced dead. It was just a matter of time until the official announcement of the ‘death of man’ (Foucault, 2001: 330-73). For postmodernists, human subjectivity is actually a pre-conditioned creation without a central point of reference, a collection of many others. ‘Foucault’s ideas imply a constituted subject and perhaps one with multiple and shifting identities’ (Crooks, 2009: 106). If there is no subject with a single identity which can be given a location and a name, the whole idea of individual creation disappears. The next casualty was, not surprisingly, ‘the author.’ The French philosopher Barthes (1977: 142-7) asserts that both the creative imaginative subject and the collective imaginary are just myths. Consequently, a work of literature cannot be considered the expression of a single creative subject, but a cultural creation which is an impersonal play of linguistic signs. For example, Shakespeare’s plays are not considered Shakespeare’s plays anymore, simply because there is no Shakespeare, at least not as an imaginative consciousness. The author is dead and so is authorial imagination. Such defragmentation of the individual subject and focus on the social construction of the self are at the very roots of the social constructivism and new critical approaches to teacher education.


Philosophical understandings of imagination are not just a matter of theory and abstract intellectual speculation. On the contrary, they are embedded in the teacher education practices and models that we adopt and defend. Theories are simply attempts to articulate in a systematic way the experiences and problems that puzzle all of us. They are meant to ‘simplify life’ and ‘enable us to see the wood for the tree, the patterns of relationships and causality in events’ (Mercer 1995, 64). In this section we will look at how major Western philosophical systems translate into our ELT teacher education practices and models. 41

3.1. Pre-modern imagination and the didactic model

The Adamic myth has far-reaching pedagogical influences and affects the way we view order and control in classroom management (Wright, 2005: 117-22). The Hebraic understanding that human imagination can challenge the ‘natural’ source of power and knowledge and lead to disruption comes to the surface every time we hear teachers saying that they do not dare to propose roleplay or drama activities in the classroom because they will not be able to maintain ‘discipline’. The moment you open the garden gates to students’ imagination you do not know what our little Adams and Eves might create and how they could threaten the harmony of your classroom.

The influence of the Hebraic narrative of imagination can never be underrated. From the Genesis to Milton’s ‘darkly attractive’, ‘well-justified’ defiant Satan (Pope, 2005: 166) in Paradise Lost (2005), the biblical myth of the Creation has contributed to the subtle presence in Western view of a potentially rebellious, dark side of imagination. It does emerge to the surface when you hear stories like the one told by one of my MEd colleagues who was reproached by her school teacher for painting a rose in blue and thus showing complete disregard for the mimetic property of imagination. The act of thinking of a different colour for a rose is the act of rethinking creation and thus an act of challenging the authority of the knowledge the teacher possess. After all, teachers ‘know’ that roses are not blue and their role is to make sure that this knowledge is passed on to their little pupils. It is the pre-modern understanding of knowledge that is at the basis of transmission teaching models, where the ‘teacher controls all aspects of the learning context’ (Wright, 2005: 193).

More than anywhere else it is in the complex issue of agency over knowledge in teaching that philosophical views of imagination have their most elusive and farreaching consequences. For instance, the Platonic negative view of imagination is at the very root of the distrust in the illusionary world of the arts, since painting, music, and poetry are just pale imperfect copies created by human imagination of something that can never be truly represented. There was no place for poets in Plato’s perfect society of The Republic because all poets are liars who colour reality with their ‘names and words’ whilst they understand nothing themselves (Plato, 1997: 286). Platonic idealism is the philosophical system that sustains an educational tradition that Crooks (2009: 88-9) 42

calls Perennialism. If the changeable world cannot be trusted and truth resides only in what is permanent, the job of education is to transmit the ‘best’ and ‘unchangeable’ values of the culture, which are then seen as timeless and perennial. Consequently, the teacher education curriculum and the pedagogical practices should place strong emphasis on the authority of well-established authors who preferably have no business with the fancies of unstable, ambivalent imagination, but who, instead, base their training methods on ‘solid’, ‘traditional’ principles. It is not the job of the teacher trainer to propose tasks and readings that will engage trainee teachers’ imagination and transform them into ‘agents of deception’ and ‘liars’. On the contrary, the role of the teacher trainer is to ensure that the ‘true’ and ‘stable’ values of their professional culture will be passed on to a new generation of teachers and that educational change will remain at the level of the visible, superficial world, without affecting the core of the educational system. Such philosophical views are so subtly entrenched in our way of seeing the world that they usually go undetected in our teacher education practices. For instance, you may decide to bring a poem to your next training session to include some imaginative content to your teacher education syllabus, but then gladly provide participants with its ‘true’ and ‘timeless’ interpretation.

Knowing how influential Christian scholasticism was in the history of Western thought we do not need a lot of fascinated imagination to see where some of our educational practices come from. The didactic teaching model, in which the tutor is the only authorised source of knowledge and the one responsible for the interpretation of the texts, has its deepest roots in the neo-Platonic medieval understanding of imagination. Knowledge is not questioned but transmitted by a tutor who is also the one who defines the needs, the stimulus and what knowledge is relevant. Tutors and teacher trainers thus become instruments of the curriculum and the ‘gatekeepers’ to the profession (Wright, 2005: 145). There is no place here for imagination and individual interpretation. Divergent, unusual, individual, non-conformist thinking is certainly not encouraged (Rowland, 1998: 21). Residues of Augustinian and Thomistic philosophies are still present in ‘native-speaker expert’ teacher trainer fallacy (Rampton, 1990: 97-101; Phillipson, 1992: 12-18). It is not uncommon to be present at conferences where wellprepared and interesting presentations are attended by a few delegates while almost everybody else flocks to the rooms where native speakers, well-renowned ‘experts’ are presenting; not necessarily because their topic is more interesting or relevant than the 43

others, which may certainly be the case, but mainly because of the authority that their familiarity with the language - the main means to achieve knowledge, according to Augustine - and their closeness to the sources of that generate knowledge - the almost metaphysical ivory towers of academia in BANA countries (Holliday, 1994: 3-11) confer to them. The pre-modern understanding of knowledge and imagination is the foundation stone upon which the didactic model of teaching lies (Rowland, 1998: 1922; Wright, 2005: 192-6) and which van Lier (1996: 178-84) labels as monologic, authoritarian, externally controlled, asymmetrical, non-contingent and elliptic. In this model teachers/teacher educators are the ones who hold the keys that open the gates of knowledge and give access to professional success and advancement. Actually, even the metaphor of a gatekeeper to the profession is a reference to the Roman Church reinterpretation of Matthew, 16:19. The discourse used by ‘experts’ in the didactic model is vertically oriented, since concepts and experiences are encoded in abstract terms (Wright, 2005: 44) which exclude the ones who do not have access to the specialised language.

3.2 Modern imagination and the scientific approaches

With the Reformation, control over vertical discourse was challenged and democratised, even if to a very limit extent. Interpretation of the Bible ceased to be vertically transmitted by those in power and a fellow believer’s interpretation could have even more force and legitimacy than the one received from the Church scholars. Since the Renaissance and the Reformation knowledge has become contested and discourse grown to be more horizontally oriented (Bernstein, 1996: 170). Living in the ‘age of information technology’, we are in a privileged position to try to understand the magnitude of the Renaissance revolution in the way knowledge was controlled and transmitted because in our own times we are witnessing another major revolution in the way it is possessed and disseminated. With the advent of the Internet and the possibility of publishing online in blogs and wikis and through self-publishing websites, the absolute control exercised by publishing companies over what is written, read and printed is being severely eroded. Rationalism and empiricism, which emerged in the Enlightenment, are the philosophical systems that sustained what Lakoff and Johnson (2003, 186-8) call ‘the myth of 44

Objectivism.’ The myth of objectivism says that the world is made of objects which have inherent properties independently of other people and things, and that we can acquire the knowledge of such objects and their properties as long as we analyse them objectively, precisely and systematically. Words have fixed meanings and to convey a clear message the only thing we need to do is to speak objectively. Being objective is thus a ‘good thing’; being subjective is a ‘bad thing.’ Reality can be analysed, measured and catalogued. What you need is some mathematical principles, a compass, scales, a square, a rule, maybe a microscope, some charts and a good dose of objective, unbiased observation skills and the world will be revealed to you. Considering the astonishing progress of the sciences and technology in the eighteenth and nineteenth century (Outram, 1995: 48-62) we can well understand the modern confidence in the power of science and rational thought to shed light on the ‘darkness’ of religious beliefs and subjective judgement.

The myth of objectivism has still multiple manifestations in our educational practices. We just need to turn our own observation skills towards most of our assessment and evaluation models where ‘standards’ and ‘competencies’ are still the criteria for determining success and ‘good practices’. Such views of the issue have been slowly changing along the years, from the rationalist quest for a ‘scientific’, reliable, ‘standard’ way of ‘measuring’ performance to (Perren, 1967: 99-106; Whiteson, 1981: 345-52) to a greater focus on teaching instead of testing (Promodrou, 1995: 13-25) and a postmodern awareness of the socio, economic and political dimensions of testing (Hall, 2009). Nonetheless, the whole idea that someone’s knowledge can be assessed and marked against a pre-determined scale of competence that is objectively pre-established independently of the context where the examination is being applied, regardless of the individuals being assessed or the circumstances where the exam takes place, is a tribute to rationalist and empiricist philosophies. Moreover, quantitative data analysis in educational research emanates ‘in part from positivism’ and relies on numerical analysis, scales of data, descriptive and inferential statistics, tests and dependent and independent variables to investigate a given phenomenon (Cohen et al, 2007: 501-6). The supervisory (Freeman, 1982: 2), the ritualistic (Maingay, 1988: 118-20), and the narrowly focused, product oriented (Rees, 1997: 90-1) approaches to classroom observation, especially in the ITE practicum, are also influenced by rationalistic and empiricist views. 45

3.3 Romantic imagination and the humanistic approaches

If rationalism and empiricism contributed to the myth of Objectivism, Romanticism, with its focus on feelings, emotions, meditation and reflective introspective thought, and having the individual as the centre of the creative process, gave birth to the counter myth of Subjectivism. According to Lakoff and Johnson (2003: 188-9), the myth of Subjectivism says that in dealing with the realities of our daily lives, we ‘rely on our senses’ and ‘intuitions’ , that ‘the most important things in our lives are our feelings, aesthetic sensibilities, moral practices and spiritual awareness’, and that ‘objective can be dangerous’ because it ignores individuality. The humanistic approach to education (Moskowitz, 1994; Stevick, 1993) brings us echoes of Romantic imagination with its emphasis on subjectivism and the pre-eminence of the individual. Humanistic views were brought into ELT (Cornom, 1986; Arnold, 1998; Underhill, 1989) and led to the ‘teacher development as self-understanding’ view of teacher education (Hargraves and Fullan, 1992: 7-13). The concern for the individual as the prime source of knowledge is manifest in the use of teachers’ personal narratives in teachers’ professional development (Bolton, 2005: 166; Wright and Bolitho, 2007: 64-71; Lee, 2007: 321-9). The idea that trainee teachers’ perceptions, thoughts and feelings are the central components of their professional beliefs and practice is a concept borrowed from the Romantic constructive and confident understanding of imagination and, if sensibly used, it can help to give imagination a very positive and productive role in teacher education.

3.4 Postmodern imagination and new trends in teacher education Pessimistic and nihilistic as they definitely are, postmodern notions of identity, language and power have contributed enormously to our understanding of imagination and have also generated critical ways of looking at English language teaching and learning which are strongly influenced by postcolonial approaches and deconstructivism (Pennycook, 1999: online; Canagarajah, 1999: 207-13; Holliday, 2008: 119-30). Postmodern philosophy’s many deaths have given birth to critical pedagogies (Freire, 2000; Kanpol, 1999), critical literacy (Lankshear and McLaren, 1993; Morgan, 1993), a social theory of learning (Lave and Wenger, 2005: 149-55; Wenger, 1998) and an


interpretive model of teaching (Rowland, 1998: 29-32). An example of a teacher education practice informed by postmodern concepts of knowledge construction is use of online forum communication in teacher education. Online courses for teachers greatly depend on the collective contribution of participants and tutors to discussion forums, hence, content is a partly generated by the participants themselves and the ‘knowledge’ made available and disseminated is the summary of such contributions (Polin, 2004: 17-30; Green and Tanner, 2005: 312-21; Stapleton and Radia, 2009). However, such approaches to ELT teacher education are still contested (Waters, 2007: 353-9) and far from being considered mainstream.


We started this chapter by establishing some distinctions between the concepts of imagination and creativity. We then analysed the nature of imagination from different angles concerning the production of mental images and taking into account (a) the presence or absence of the object or physical reality and (b) the level of consciousness of the subject. Such initial considerations were followed by a story of imagination in Western philosophy, from the epistemological and historical points of view, focusing on its close connections with understandings of knowledge and identity. We have briefly examined the pre-modern (Hebraic, Hellenistic and scholastic), modern (rationalist, empiricist, romantic) and postmodern (deconstructivist) understandings of imagination and concluded looking at how these philosophical ways of thinking are translated into and inform some teacher education models and approaches.

In Chapter Three we will examine the interplay between imagination, knowledge and professional reflection. I will then propose a view of teacher education that locates a crucial central role to imagination in the development of ELT professionals and in the process of implementing educational change.



Teachers’ Imagination
My Streets are my, Ideas of Imagination. Awake Albion, awake! and let us awake up together. Jerusalem Blake, W. (1964)


When Claxton (1999) wrote about the multiple aspects of learning, he started with the empiricist metaphor of the tool kit, but soon abandoned it in favour of the image of a tree, The metaphor of the toolkit is useful, and I shall make good use of it; but it breaks down when we come to think about how these learning resources are themselves acquired. …They grow out of each other, as the branches of a tree grow out of the trunk. First comes the main stem of ‘brain learning’: picking up patterns through immersion and experience. Out of that grow in turn the shoots of imagination, intellect and intuition, and each shoot develops into a major branch of the tree of learning (1999: 11-12) Claxton’s metaphor is the fruit of a long cultural tradition that reserves a special place for trees in our collective imagination. Wherever we choose to look at, we will realise that trees are objects that live in the lands of our imagination in various forms. From the biblical Tree of Good and Evil at the centre of the Garden of Eden, which gave Adam and Eve the fruit of knowledge (Genesis, 1.2.15-17), to Tolkien’s (1999) Telperion and Laurelin, the Silver and the Gold trees that brought light to the Land of the Valar in ancient times, trees have always been associated with creation, knowledge and imagination. The metaphor of the tree may help us to understand some aspects of imagination in teacher education. It will help us in this chapter to look at the place and role of imagination in three areas which are closely connected to it: (a) teachers’ knowledge, (b) professional reflection, and (c) change through education.


Fig. 4. The human thinking tree. (Based on Claxton, 1999: 11-12)


Fig. 5. The teacher education tree. (Based on Claxton, 1999: 11-12).



In is telling indeed that Claxton (1999:11) has changed so quickly from the compartmental tool kit to the complex and organic tree metaphor in his description of different learning modes. Learning is the process by which knowledge is acquired, shared and developed, and certainly the tool kit metaphor is too limited to describe it. Perhaps we could say that, as its biblical counterpart, Claxton’s tree is at centre of the teaching and learning garden, since one of the most frequent images teachers resort to when asked to describe the classroom is the metaphor of the garden (Kliebard, 1975: 84-5). The garden metaphor, Breen’s coral gardens (2001: 128), Waters and Vilches’s training island (2000: 127-8) and Claxton’s tree are all offshoots of the English philosophy of aesthetics called organicism, whose major ‘categories are derived metaphorically from the attributes of living and growing things’ (Abrams, 1953: 168). And it was Coleridge who brought organicism into light. The contrast between the tool kit and the tree is also the contrast between the ‘mechanical’ aspects of memory - which is responsible for transposition, reflection, juxtaposition - and the combining power of imagination, which is responsible for blending, recreation and synthesis (Coleridge, 1985). As Abrams (1953) puts it,

If Plato’s dialectic is a wilderness of mirrors, Coleridge’s is a very jungle of vegetation…Authors, characters, poetic genres, poetic passages, words, meter, logic become seeds, trees, flowers, blossoms, fruit, bark and sap. (1953:169) Rationalist philosophy, as we have seen in the discussion of modern imagination, takes a diametrically opposite view and makes an eulogy of science and technology as the way to ‘purge mankind of residues of religion, mysticism and metaphysics’, since it holds the conviction that empirical science was not just a form of knowledge, but the only form of knowledge in the world (Schön, 1983: 32). In teacher education this way of thinking is reflected in the idea that the knowledge teachers need to have is knowledge of professional behaviour – methodology and pedagogy - and knowledge of their subject matter - in our case, language proficiency and knowledge about language and the ultimate goal for teacher learning is to produce technicians (Malderez and Wedell, 2007: 13-14). If we follow this line of thought, the only knowledge that is worth having is epistemic knowledge, i.e., general theoretical principles that apply to different circumstances and problems. Epistemic knowledge is generated by 51

theoreticians and academics and transmitted to teachers through professional reading and by ‘expert’ teacher trainers. On the other hand, phronesis, or practical knowledge, which comes from teachers’ own experience and which is contextualised and derived through understanding of specific situations and cases (Loughran, 2006: 8-9), is either relegated to a subordinate inferior position or completely disregarded. Epistemic knowledge and phronesis are respectively at the tip and bulk of the ‘teacher iceberg’ (Malderez and Bodoczky 1999: 15). Epistemic knowledge is transmitted and juxtaposed; phronesis is developed and synthesised. However, it would be simplistic to think that these two different forms of knowledge exist independently of each other. To conceive that would be to fall into the empiricist trap that sees things in separate compartments.

Practical knowledge is influenced by the theories we come into contact with, i.e., experience is ‘theory-dependent’ because we not only select input, but also interpretations of input (Bruner, 1986: 109-10). By the same token we could say that theory is ‘experience-dependent’, since theoreticians and academics are also real people who live in a real place and time and, thus, have their theories influenced by their personal experiences. Indeed, the question of the knowledge base is so central to a principled discussion of teacher education that different authors have tried to systematise the issue in different ways. Burns and Richards (2009:3) contrast knowledge about, which is the content knowledge of the ‘established core curriculum’ of ITE programmes, and knowledge how, which encompasses the beliefs, practical knowledge and personal theories that ‘underline teacher’s practical actions.’ Korthagen (1993: 319) believes that non-rational, right-hemisphere information processing plays a ‘central role in the everyday teaching’ and, thus, in the holistic construction of what teachers know (Szestay, 2004: 129). Rogers (2002: 119), states that ‘much of our learning is accidental and unintended’; and Boud et al (1993: 13) agree that learning, or the development of knowledge, results of the complex interaction between our ‘feelings and motions (affective), the intellectual and cerebral (cognitive) and action (conative)’ domains.

If these concepts are valid for teaching in general, they could also be useful to teacher education and consequently our training practices should provide our trainee teachers with opportunities to synthesise the theoretical, cognitive, left-hemisphere knowledge about brought to them by professional literature and teacher educators’ input with their 52

own experiential, affective, right-hemisphere

knowledge how. The human power

capable of making such a synthesis is imagination. Imagination can do such a synthesis because our minds have two modus operandi, the paradigmatic mode and the narrative mode (Bruner, 1986: 11-13), which provide distinctive ways of experiencing the world and constructing reality. They are not reducible to each other, but complementary. Most importantly, we need imagination to activate both of them. According to Bruner (1986),

The imaginative application of the paradigmatic mode [scientific imagination] leads to good theory, tight analysis, logical proof…it is the ability to see possible formal connections before one is able to prove them in any formal way. …The imaginative application of the narrative mode [humanistic imagination] leads instead to good stories, gripping dramas…it strives to put its timeless miracles into the particulars of experience, and to locate experience in time and place. (1986: 13) Both scientific and humanistic imaginations are ultimately expressed by individuals’ acts, but it does not mean that we should see them as the sole products of entirely subjective individuality. Postmodern theories have shown us that individuals are affected by the socio-cultural and historical contexts where they live and by the texts they interact with (Alcoff, 2006:71). Postmodern imagination is based on the view that what we are is the result of what we experience as a society and that our identities are the product of our relationships with others. Hence, both the paradigmatic and the narrative imaginations depend on the social construction of knowledge (Wenger, 1998: 3-15; Lave and Wenger, 2005: 143-50; Diamond, 1991: 13-15), on experiential and vicarious learning (Jarvis et al, 2006: 53-67). They also depend on a theory of practice (Mercer, 1995: 64-85; Boud et al, 1993: 8-16, Marland, 1997: 3-13) and on an understanding of language which sees it as a way of organising different levels of experience (Bruner 1986: 121-33; Bakhtin and Holquist, 1982: xix-xx). It is because of these complex networks of influences that Deleuze and Guattari (2004: 7) contest the metaphor of the tree and substitute it with the metaphor of the rhizomes which develop by ‘subtle, transverse networks in unseen, subterranean ways’ and spread ‘linking one node to another.’ According to Pope (2005),

The notion of rhizomatic growth is prefigured in the psychology of learning by Vygotsky (1934) concept of ‘zone of proximal development’. This too entails development from ‘the known’ to ‘the unknown’ by the most readily accessible but not necessarily linear route. (2005: 16-17)


Interesting and illustrative as the idea of the rhizomes is, it leads us, though, to the predicament of postmodern ‘parodic imagination’ (Kearney, 1988: 251-5), a nihilistic crisis of identity and the death of man (Foucault, 2001), which is also the death of imagination. We may decide to look at the tree as a monolithic, hierarchically constructed vertical axis, standing alone detached from others or we may chose to look at the tree as the organising principle of subjectivity: the trunk that is the visible, standing, unifying part of an organism that has as its basis deep, interweaving, interconnecting roots that extract their nutrients from the same soil and water that feed other similar but unique tress in the woodland of our existence. Personally, I choose the latter. I choose to see the tree as the metaphor for the ‘experientialist synthesis’ that brings together imaginative understanding and creative rationality (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003:192-4; Vygotsky, 1988: 39). In this metaphorical construction, teacher education is a tree whose hopelessly entangled roots are the theoretical foundations of professional education, notions of professional competence and capability (Day, 1999: 53-8), cognitive intellectual engagement, empirical experimentation, learning experiences, individual schemata, personal judgments, interaction with others and language (Figures. 4 and 5. As the biblical mythical tree, knowledge is the fruit of our teacher education tree.


She left the web, she left the loom, She made three paces through the room, She saw the water-lily bloom, She saw the helmet and the plume, She look'd down to Camelot. Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack'd from side to side; The Lady of Shalott Tennyson, A.L. (2005)

Since Schön’s (1983) discussion of the role of reflection in professional development much ink has been spilled over reflection in teacher education. Actually, Schön does not write having teachers particularly in mind. What he does say is that reflective teachers


need a sort of ‘educational technology’ that allows them to go beyond the capacity to ‘administrate drill and practice’ and which enables them to help students to ‘explore new directions of understanding and action’ (Schön, 1983: 333-4). Boud et al (1985: 1837) propose a model of reflection that takes the learner’s behaviour, ideas, feelings and intent as starting points for the reflective process, which consists of returning to the experience, attending to feelings connect to it and re-evaluating the experience. The outcome of such a process is the acquisition of new perspectives on experience, change in behaviour, readiness for application and commitment to action. For Brookfield (1995) reflection also has a critical function for it makes us question ‘hegemonic assumptions,’ ie.,

ideas, structures, and actions [that] come to be seen by the majority of people as wholly natural, preordained, and working for their own good, when in fact they are constructed and transmitted by powerful minority interests to protect the status quo that serves those interests. (1995: 15) For him critical reflection is ‘inherently ideological’ since it is directed toward the self but ‘springs from a concern to create the conditions under which people can learn to love one another’ (Brookfield, 1995: 26). His formulation is an attempt to avoid the perceived danger of excessive focus on the self, of an introspective practice that excludes the other or any possibility of sharing meaningful ideas and feelings. That is why for Claxton (1999: 191) ‘being reflective means looking inward as well as out.’ Nonetheless, reflection is a word that is closely associated with the image of a mirror, since that is what mirrors do: they reflect images of the self and of the others. They show us ‘shadows’ of the river, the village, ‘the red cloaks of market girls’, and of ourselves. They are just visions of Camelot (Tennyson, 2005: 984-8). For Bolton (2005),

The mirror image model of reflection suggests that there is a me out there practising in the big world, and a reflected me in here in my head thinking about it…This model is located in modernist duality: this in dialogue with that, in and out, or here and there. (Emphasis on the original) (2005: 4) Indeed, reflective practices in teacher education, such as the use of portfolios and teachers’ journals, seem to be largely based on a modernist analytical approach to knowledge and imagination. Even when feelings, behaviours and ideas are taken into


consideration in the process of reflection, usually the procedure is to dissect and examine them under the microscope of logical thinking in order to catalogue them, determine their origins and establish the best course of action to transform them in a useful product. To break the curse of dualism we have to be able to look directly both at the mirror and at the window and realise that they are different and complementary ways of looking at the world. We should strive for a balance between reason and intuition, deliberation and contemplation (Claxton, 1997: 85-99). Only imagination can do that.

For Hume imagination is the uniting principle that connects the three features that our ideas possess: ‘resemblance, continuity in time and space, and casual connexion’ (Warnock, 1976: 17). Resemblance is what allows us to recognise common characteristics in objects, people, and situations even when they are not the same. It is what makes possible find common trends in different teaching training situations and different groups of trainees, for example. Resemblance connects us to the past. Continuity in time and space is what allow me to believe that this study will still be here even when I am not looking at it. It makes me believe that it still exists in time and space even when I go to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and that it will remain where it is and will still be here after time elapses and I come back. Continuity in time and space make us conceive the present. Casual connexion is what allows me to think that if I keep writing, I will eventually finish the text and be able to complete my course. Casual connexion projects us to the future.

The job of imagination is to connect the three of them. Boud et al’s (1985: 18-39) model of reflection can only be operative if we bring imagination into the equation. Returning to experience implies recollecting events and replaying them in your mind, seeing them again with your ‘inward eye’. Attending to feelings and removing negative feelings requires the ability to imagine alternative reactions and alternative imaginary scenarios. None of these things is possible without imagination. Re-evaluating experience depends on the association between ideas and feelings, integration between the observable and the unobservable, a rehearsal of possibilities in order to validate new ideas before being able to really observe them in the real world, and appropriation that is the capacity to make new knowledge yours and, therefore, be able to modify it. None of these things is possible without the work of imagination, for it permeates the whole process. 56

3. IMAGINATION AND CHANGE Trees are growing things. They start their lives as humble small seeds and change to be the imposing full-size beings that give us shelter, shadow, oxygen and fantasy. Trees are changing things and to understand change we have to look again at our teacher education tree (Fig 4). Here I will depart from Claxton (1999: 11-12), who sees imagination as one of the branches of the learning tree. I consider creativity as such a branch, sprouting in the twigs of fantasy, visualisation, narrative, and so on. Imagination is much more than just a branch of our tree. It is the vital sap that runs through it carrying the nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves. Imagination is the life fluid without which our tree would be ‘essentially fixed and dead’ (Coleridge, 1985: 304). Without it, there is no change and there is no growth.

To understand how imagination can be so essential to the process of change in teacher education we need a better understanding of how imagination operates in our minds. For that we are going to rely heavily on Frye’s (1964) metaphor of the person shipwrecked in a desert island. What Prospero, the main character in The Tempest, (Shakespeare, 1988), Ralph’s band in Lord of the Flies (Golding, 1954) and Tom Hanks in the film Cast Away ( all have in common is that they, in different ways, try to change the inhospitable reality of the environment where they find themselves into something else. Apparently Chuck, Hanks’ character, does not interfere much in the environment, but certainly he is the one who becomes closer to God for he is the only one who creates another being to make himself company and transforms the inert material of a volleyball into his companion, Wilson. What these narratives tell us is the story of the human mind using imagination to construct alternative models of human experience. According to Frye (1964: 16-23), the mind operates at three levels, each with a particular way of interacting with the world and with a different language for each one of them,

(a) the level of consciousness, where the ‘most important thing is the difference between me and everything else.’ This is what makes the person in the desert island able to distinguish between himself and the beasts in the jungle. You realise that the world around you has no human shape and it apart from yourself.


At this level, the language is the one of internal monologue, of self-expression and of ordinary everyday conversation. (b) the level of social participation, where the individual establishes a link between nature and himself. You look around and you develop feelings towards the world, either finding it beautiful of threatening. Coleridge believed that only love and fear have the power to make us see objects beyond themselves (Warnock, 1976: 81-2). Moreover, your curiosity and intellect make you want to find out more about the world out there: investigate, examine, and study it. Here the language is the one of science and technology. (c) the level of imagination, where having examined the world you think that it could be different. Perhaps there is something missing or something that could be better than it is, or more beautiful. You imagine possible changes and alternative ways to see and relate to the world around you. The language now is the one with produces poems, plays and novels.

Once again these levels are neither apart from each other nor proceed in a linear way. They are in constant dialogue with each other. According to Frye (1964),

Science begins with the world we have to live in, accepting its data and trying to explain its laws. From there, it moves toward imagination: it becomes a mental construct, a model of a possible way of interpreting experience. The further it goes in this direction, the more it tends to speak the language of mathematics, which is one of the languages of imagination, along with literature and music. (1964: 23) Imagination is what makes Prospero change the island of his exile and political ostracism into the place and society where he rules supreme. Moreover, imagination is what may have made Shakespeare change the report of a Virginia Company of London shipwreck (Nostbakken, 2004: 27-8) into a beautiful, intriguing, controversial and exciting play. There is no change without imagination, and this includes educational change. Jarvis et al (2006: 13) remind us that ‘changes in education systems do not take place in a social vacuum.’ First of all, changes in education happen because, as we have seen in Chapter Two, any development in human conceptual systems forms waves of influence in all other areas of human activity, be it politics, the economy, or personal relationships. It is like the ripples on the surface of a lake where you threw a pebble (Wright and Bolitho, 2007: 27). Education is not immune to this. Changes in society 58

inevitably lead to changes in education and consequently also in teacher education. However, not all changes are the same and Fullan (1991; 29) categorises them into two types: (a) first order changes, which ‘improve the efficiency or effectiveness of what is currently done without disturbing the basic organisational features’ of a system; and (b) second order changes, which ‘seek to alter the fundamental ways in which organisations are put together.’ For instance, educational institutions may decide that instead of basing their CPD programme on short summer courses for teachers, they will instead adopt an institution-based skills development model with regular sessions during the term between the teachers and the mentor/supervisor. This is in the first order category of change. In order to lead to a second order type of change, not only do the location and the time of the sessions have to change, but also more fundamental and related issues, such as the teaching model adopted by the trainer, the power relationship between trainer and trainees and the level of agency trainees have over the programme and the outcomes. An obvious example of first order change alone is when the education authorities pour millions of pounds into fitting classrooms with new technological gadgets, such as interactive whiteboards, or printing new curriculum materials without discussing such ‘innovations’ with teachers or piloting them in schools (Hoban, 2002:14-16). Such situations are the products of a mechanistic, modernist view that believes that the world can be changed and knowledge forged efficiently as long as you use the right tools to shape it.

The sort of change we are concerned with here, however, is the second order category that depends on imagination to bring about more in-depth changes: from didactic and exploratory models to an interpretive model (Rowland, 1998: 19-32), and from transmission to more humanistic, creative and critical approaches to ELT teacher education. Certainly, it is much easier to achieve superficial changes than in-depth ones, because these depend on changes in long-established habits, deeply rooted beliefs, selfimage and world schemata (Cook, 1994: 9-19). Moreover, alterations at such levels ‘may be painful’, provoke ‘anxiety, uncertainty and a sense of loss’ causing individuals to have their new positions challenged by others, their personal and professional relationships disrupted and their self-confidence undermined (Nias, 1987:137-9). As Fullan (1991: 32) puts it, ‘real change, then, whether desired or not, represents a serious personal and collective experience characterized by ambivalence and uncertainty.’ Change always results in a conflict between the past experiences, perceptions and 59

beliefs, the present state of affairs of what we want or are requested to change, and the future changes that we want to see implemented. Once again, we depend on imagination and its combining power of resemblance, time-space continuity and connexion to help us to achieve what Brown (2000) calls cultural continuity. Hayes (2000: 135-44), Lamb (1995: 72-9) and Kouraogo (1987: 171-8) tell us stories of attempts to introduce changes in ELT teacher education in different countries around the world where success and failure were present at different levels. What they all had in common is the fact that they are narratives of conflict and resistance to change. Cultural continuity can help to implement changes, because, even being a natural part of life, changes ‘may be easier to accept if they emerge from current practice’ (Brown, 2000: 227-30). Cultural continuity is the equivalent of bringing together Plato and the Romantics to the negotiation table to discuss the place of imagination in society. Adopting the notion of cultural continuity in teacher education means to work at the same time with Platonic tradition and Romantic innovation, trying to use the synthetic powers of teachers’ imagination to bring about change in ELT teacher education contexts. According to Abbs (1996),

Traditional culture is concerned with fidelity to the community and to the received traditions which make community possible. Innovative culture is concerned with fidelity to individual experience, that which is known, sensed, felt, apprehended from within. There must often be war between these two cultures, and, if a living balance is to be sustained, neither side must win. (Abbs, 1996: 41)

Teacher educators, working either inside there own institutions or travelling around the world teaching as guest professors and international speakers in TAs conferences, need an understanding of the importance of synthesising tradition and innovation in the processes of adopting an interpretive model and imaginative and critical approaches to ELT and bringing change in teachers’ professional conceptualisations and practices. We need the power of our own imaginations to transform the environment of the teacher education islands (Walters and Vilches, 2000: 127-8) where we find ourselves. Only activating our imagination will we be able to recognise the differences between our own understanding and that of our trainee teachers, feel curious enough to establish a link with them, and help them to imagine alternative ways and possible changes in the teaching and learning contexts where they live.



In this chapter we used the metaphor of the tree to help us understand the living, organic, flexible nature of ELT teacher education and the fundamental role imagination plays in helping it to grow and bloom. First, we examined the strong connections between imagination and the nature of teachers’ knowledge and its intrinsic connection with notions of social construction of knowledge and experiential learning. Secondly, we looked at the idea of reflection in professional contexts and how imagination is a fundamental component of reflective practice for teachers. Last, but not least, we proposed imagination as the ingredient without which no change from didactic to imaginative and critical teacher education models can be possible for, paraphrasing Frye (1964: 140), it is the job of imagination to produce out of the EFL education models we have, a vision of the ELT education models we want to have.

In Chapter Four we examine how working with metaphors and narratives can help trainee teachers to use imagination to develop their personal and professional knowledge, become more reflective teachers and engage in the process of bringing innovation and change to ELT.



Exercising Imagination
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players;

As You Like It Shakespeare W. (1988)


In teacher education, the whole discussion about imagination becomes relevant only if we see it under the light of the personal and professional development that happens in teachers’ lives and which takes place in the context where they work. My argument in this study is that imagination has a crucial role to play in promoting cultural continuity and innovation. It is also instrumental in bringing together different sorts of knowledge into an organic meaningful whole. What we need in teacher education is a way of thinking that helps teachers and teacher trainers to explore the possibilities their imaginations open to them in the processes of constructing knowledge, initiating and managing change and developing as professionals. For my part, I cannot think of a stronger or more solid argument for the centrality of imagination in teacher education. The question that remains is how to achieve this.

Some activities and tasks may help us to activate and exercise teachers’ imagination. Although there are plenty of imaginative material that could be explored here, such as visual and dramatic arts, virtual worlds, language play and humour, the limits of this study do not permit a more exhaustive treatment and, therefore, I have decided to concentrate on the two manifestations of imagination that have the potential to generate others: metaphors and narratives. Metaphors can be created either in language or in visual forms such as painting, drawing, and photography (Appendix C). Narratives may generate roleplay, drama and films (Appendices D to F). In this chapter we will investigate how metaphors and narratives can provide opportunities to explore teachers’ imagination as well as the reasons for including them in our programmes and the benefits they can bring to ELT teacher education.



An initial consideration is necessary here: the idea of working with metaphors and narratives in teacher education proposed in this chapter fundamentally differs from the objectives advanced by most resource materials available in the ELT publishing market, as we saw in Chapter One. It does not propose the use of creative tasks in order to give trainee teachers practice in adopting and managing the same sort of activities in their own lessons. It does not propose the use of creative tasks in order to convince teachers that imagination is important for their learners. These should be natural and optional byproducts of engaging with imagination in teacher education. The main reason for adopting an imaginative approach to teacher education is to help teachers to use the combining power of their own imaginations to make the necessary connections between the different areas of teaching knowledge, to visualise a big picture of the of ELT education.

Furthermore, exercising imagination cannot be something imposed by teacher trainers, nor can participants be persuaded to be imaginative and creative. What teacher trainers can do is to create opportunities, provide stimulus, give support and guide participants in the exploration of their imaginative constructs. What teacher trainers can do is to use some imaginative strategies themselves to create an environment that helps imagination to bloom in their teacher training contexts.

Perhaps more importantly than everything else, however, is to start by discussing with participants the role and place of imagination in their own personal and professional development. Introducing and examining with student teachers and teachers in CPD programmes the philosophical and historical understandings of imagination and knowledge is fundamental to help participants to: (a) identify where some concepts that degrade the role of imagination and personal experiential learning in education come from, (b) see how imagination is deeply connected to notions of knowledge, power and change, and (c) decide where imagination can lead them to in the process of becoming English language educators themselves.



Using a metaphor to describe life as the theatre, as Shakespeare (1988; II.vii.139-67) does in As You Like It, is not the prerogative of poetic geniuses. The genius of Shakespeare is in putting a highly elaborated extended metaphor in the mouth of Jacques. For Jacques is one of his jesters, a common folk stock character, who speaks ‘the real language of man’ (Wordsworth and Coleridge, 2005: 287) and who, most naturally, resorts to metaphor, as we all do in our very ordinary uses of language. Contrary to popular belief, metaphor is not only a poetic device, but a major principle in the way our conceptual systems are structured. According to Lakoff and Johnson (2003),

Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around the world, and how we relate to other people…our conceptual system is largely metaphorical…the way we think, what we experience, and what we do everyday is very much a matter of metaphor (2003: 3)

When Breen (2001: 128) says that the language classroom is a coral garden, he is using a metaphor - i.e., he is using a language device that allow us to express and experience one concept in terms of another (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003: 5) - making it possible for us to visualise and understand the classroom from a different perspective (Owen, 2001: xv). For instance, if the language classroom is a coral garden, it means that it is a beautiful, colourful and rich environment, but it also means that it is fragile, mysterious, sometimes dangerous and subject to the moods of the weather and ocean currents. It may also convey the idea that it is inhabited by exotic species of algae and fish of which we usually have very little knowledge. Are these species of exotic fish, our students? Are teachers the expert divers that go to the coral gardens to take photos of it and collect some samples? We cannot be sure if such connections and questions crossed Breen’s mind when he used this metaphor for the classroom. What we can be sure about, though, is the immense potential for reflection and critical awareness that metaphors offer us. According to Bruner (1979),

Metaphor joins dissimilar experiences by finding the image or the symbol that unites them at some deeper emotional level of meaning. Its effects depends upon its capacity for getting past the literal mode of connecting (1979: 63)


To understand the power of metaphor to create these connections and also why it is still so rarely used or even ignored in teacher education programmes we have to look at some philosophical understandings of language. The medium of education is language and language ‘imposes a perspective in which things are viewed and a stance toward what we view’ (Bruner, 1986: 121). Pre-modern imagination systems, from the Hebraic tradition to Neo-Platonism and occultism, believed that there was an imputed direct correspondence between the word and the symbol and the reality they represented (Tambiah, 1996: 34). In Saussure’s terms, there was no gap between the signifier (word/symbol) and the signified (object) (Joseph, 2004: 59-75). Hence, pronouncing the name of God in vain was a sin against the Deity Himself (Exodus: 2.20.7), for there is no difference between Word and Being. This is also the rationale for the existence of ‘magical words’, since the signifier, when uttered, could activate the signified. Thus, saying ‘Lumus’ in Harry Potter’s stories is the equivalent to produce light (Rowling, 1997). Therefore, allowing human imagination to use language to create correspondences and manipulate the relations between ‘the domains of the divine’ and the human world is nothing short of heresy (Tambiah, 1996:36-7). There is no place for mystic and fancy words either in the scholastically controlled discourse of pre-modern education, or in the scientifically oriented discourse of the Enlightenment. Metaphor in theses conceptual frameworks is either sin or folly. We still carry with us such

philosophical inheritance when we treat metaphor in teacher education as either potentially disruptive discourse that may call into question official sanctioned methodologies and approaches, or as a complete waste of ‘training time.’

Only exploring the conceptual metaphors that are present in our everyday lives can we reveal the ‘fundamental values of our culture’ (Lakoff and Johnson: 2003: 14-22) and acquire a greater awareness of the reasons and roots of our beliefs and attitudes towards to world, the others and ourselves. However, with time and use conceptual metaphors may lose their power and become conventional to the point that we do not see where they come from anymore. According to Ellis (2001), conventional metaphors do more than construct particular realities, they also channel and constrain thought…we lose the sight of the metaphorical origins of our theories and treat them as literal statements about reality. (2001:67)


An example of conventional metaphor may be when teachers describe themselves as ‘coaches’. The sports metaphor may mean that teachers are focussing on the collective aspect of classroom interaction and the idea of working together to achieve a common objective, but it also implies that learning English is a competition to be either won or lost. Different interpretations of a conventional metaphor alert us to the fact that people frame images in different ways. Certainly, repeated exposure to a metaphor affects the way people conceptualise things, however this does not mean that people are enslaved by their metaphors or that the choice of metaphor is a matter of taste or indoctrination. Metaphors are generalisations…Different metaphors can frame the same situation for the same reason that different words can describe the same object (Pinker, 2007:261) Working with metaphors in teacher education, thus, has multiple functions. It helps us to create images that represent the way we see things, clarify the nature of our constructed images, and reframe our existing metaphors in alternative ways by comparing and contrasting them with other possible images for the same concept (Appendix C).

Creating metaphors demands the engagement of the imagination, for only imagination can allow us to visualise one thing in terms of another and make us conceive the idea of the classroom as a factory, a stage production, a mountain pass, an African village hut, a golf course or a kite. Indeed, these were some of the metaphors that members of our MEd group created and which were properly illustrated and discussed with our tutor. Explaining our metaphors to the group and being requested to extend them was part of the process of discovering the structure that informs some of our conceptual system of teacher education. Korthagen (1993: 322) narrates the story of a novice teacher who had been having discipline problems with her class and whose metaphor for the teacher was a ‘lion-tamer’. The teacher and her supervisor then explored the lion-tamer metaphor to determine the origins and the implications of such a view of the classroom as a lions’ cage. Exploring metaphors in teacher education can help teachers to elucidate the nature of the constructs which they work by (Thornbury, 1991: 193-200), to ‘organise their belief sets’ and ‘aid to reflection-on-practice’ (Ellis, 2001: 67-8).


What I propose in this study is to give metaphor an active role in our teacher education programmes, short courses and even workshops by,

a. exploring our own conceptual metaphors, b. questioning the conventional metaphors of everyday discourse, c. creating new metaphors for different aspects of teaching and learning, d. discussing our metaphors with our peers, tutors and even students, e. comparing and contrasting our metaphors with others created by other people.

Because metaphors can help us to ‘disclose’ concepts and feelings that we are ‘censoring’ and that are deeply ‘ingrained’ in our ways of behaving (Wright and Bolitho, 2007: 71), proposing tasks and activities that require participants to imagine and explore metaphors should be a regular feature of teacher education if we aim at developing reflective professionals who are committed to educational change. However, it is also because metaphors can be such powerful instruments of disclosure that may disturb ‘our comfortable sense of self and identity’ (Owen, 2001: xvi), that teacher trainers have to use them responsibly, showing respect for participants’ individuality.


Telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. More so in fact, for while food make us live, stories are what make our lives worth living. They are what make our condition human. Kearney, R. (2002)

Kearney (2002: 3) makes a comprehensive analysis of the role of stories in human history and in the construction of self. For him it is the transition ‘from nature to narrative, from time suffered to time enacted and enunciated’ that transformed us from a merely ‘biological life’ to a ‘truly human one.’ From the biblical narrative to the Greek myths and stories of the gods, from the bard’s tales of the Mabinogion (Guest, 1997) in the Celtic tradition to the popular gothic novels in the 18th century, to the over 24 million fiction books sold by publishers each year in the UK alone

(, narratives have been an integral part of our lives.


However, we have seen that since modern times Western philosophical thought have ‘excluded certain expressive modes from its legitimate repertoire’ (Bolton, 2005: 14). Rhetoric has excluded fiction. Narrative and metaphor with their sisters, intuition and imagination, were relegated to the obscure corners of learning and dismissed as an inferior, usually female, untrustworthy form of knowledge (Lloyd, 1996: 149-64). These are the deep roots of teacher education practices that take into account only ‘legitimate’ knowledge that is generated by analytical thinking and, mainly, quantitative research; whereas teachers’ personal and professional stories, literature and qualitative oriented research are seen as mere second-class contributors in the process of professional development.

Leví-Strauss has showed us that our stories are offspring of some basic universal myths (Leví-Strauss, 1978: 11-15) and myth is, according to Bruner (1979:31-2), ‘an aesthetic device for bringing the imaginary’ into collaboration with the objective ‘facts of life.’ Myth and stories thus, have the functions of (a) creating a common basis for communicating and sharing feelings and experience; (b) containing and fashioning our internal impulses allowing us to live in society, and (c) filtering our experiences. Eagleton (1983:185) further sees narratives as a ‘source of consolation’ for they offer structured fictive comfort to our problems and a ‘closure to our desires’. Stories reveal the internal and external dialogic nature of our relationships since ‘every plot event is a moment of encounter with the other’ and also with ourselves (Hall, 1995: 261).

3.1 Teachers’ narratives

‘Teachers tell stories.’ Golombek (2009: 155) states that stories are ‘expressions of a dynamic and complex kind of knowledge – teachers’ practical knowledge.’ She gives examples of how, when asked to define teaching-learning concepts, teachers switch into narrative mode and tell stories about their students and classroom events. Much has been written about the value of teachers’ narratives, journals and portfolios in teacher education (Lee, 2007: 321-9; Shin, 2003: 3-10; Tanner et al, 2000: 20-30; Banfi, 2003: 34-42) in the process of raising awareness of teachers’ beliefs and attitudes and to aid in the process of reflection. However, the old positivist rift between imagination and reality still persists even when we ask people to recollect experiences and events. Boud 68

et al (1985: 25-6) reckon as extremely useful in the process of reflection replaying ‘the experience in the mind’s eye’ at the same time that urge us to ‘ensure that our reflection is on the basis of the actual events as we experienced them at the time, rather in terms of what we wished had happened.’ Such a stance presupposes that recollection, which is nothing more than a form of narrative, can be strictly objective and unbiased. It understands that the human mind is able to read experiences without being affected by other events, emotions, hindsight gained since ‘the time’ things happened. Here we can make good use of deconstruction theories that tell us that language and reality are interwoven (Royle, 1998: 63-5). Every recollection/story is a construction, a dialogue between the me-character and the me-narrator. Every narrative, biography, anecdote, piece of teaching journal is, to a greater or lesser extent, a piece of fiction, 'For all stories are true and yet not true’ (Owen (2001: xii). Moreover, what teachers ‘wanted it to be’ can reveal as much about their concepts, beliefs and assumptions about teaching as if the narrative were strictly realistic. All of them construct what we are. According to Bolton (2005),

If our lives are not constantly told and retold, storying each experience, we would have no coherent notion of who we are, where we are going, what we believe, what we want, where we belong and how to be…my psychosocial selfhood relies upon my grasp of my narratives of relationship, chronology and place (2005: 106) Therefore, personal narratives should not be only an exercise that teachers do once in a while, but an integral part of their initial and continuing professional development programmes. There are various techniques that can be used in teacher education to achieve so, such as peer interviews, storytelling, biographies, traditional teacher journals, portfolios and blogs (Appendix D). Each teacher trainer should be able to negotiate with their groups what technique best fits the group. What is important is to make this sort of writing a crucial component of teachers ITE and CPD programmes, since ‘writing is fundamental to the achievements of abstract and reflective thinking’, it enables teachers to reflect upon their meanings’ and become critically aware of their own thought processes (Diamond, 1991: 13). Above all though, what is necessary is an openness and honesty of mind to be able to reflect on the meaning of the stories we narrate.


3.2 Literature

Storytelling will never end for there will always be someone to say ‘Tell me a story’, and somebody else who will respond ‘Once upon a time…’ Kearney, R. (2002) Aristotle in Poetics wrote that the function of tragedy is to imitate action (Aristotle, 1996: 4-5) and in doing so creatively re-describe the world in a way that concealed patterns and unexplored feelings can be revealed. Kearny (2002: 129-56), in an entire chapter devoted to narrative, analyses what he considers the five ‘enduring functions of storytelling’: plot or mythos, re-creation or mimesis, release or catharsis, wisdom or phronesis and ethics or ethos. Each of these functions is performed by teachers’ biographies as well as fiction, and both forms of narrative have an important role to play in teacher education.

Fictional narratives usually come to us in the form of novels, short stories, plays and poems, which collectively we conventionally call literature. The multiple reasons for using literature in ELT are inspired by different currents of thought in literary criticism which range from liberal humanism to the various forms of criticism sprung from poststructuralism (Barry, 1995) and inform different literature reading practices, from traditional approaches to intercultural awareness and literary engagement (Hall, 2005: 47-127). The approaches we adopt to reading literature in ELT are coherent with both theoretical principles that inform our understanding of the role of literature in language teaching/learning and with our teaching objectives and beliefs (Lima, 2009: 17-19). Much has also been written about the place and role of literature in language learning (Widdowson, 1984: 149-162; Brumfit, 1986; McRae, 1991; Maley, 2009) but our main concern in this study is the place of literature in teacher education.

The disclosure of perceptions, beliefs and feelings through teachers’ biographies and narratives as ideal as it sounds is not something easy to attain. Exposure to the group, self-awareness, a sense of self-inadequacy, the risk of being criticised and judged by colleagues and by your tutors are all very concrete risks that many times participants are not ready to take. Sometimes the stakes are just too high and disclosure, in certain teacher education contexts, may lead to serious conflict, segregation and even trauma. I


have seen myself a teacher leave the training room in tears because her account of a teaching episode was ‘critically deconstructed’ by the teacher trainer, who did not have the sensitivity to realise that the participant was not interpreting this as an ‘intellectual exploration of concepts’ but as a judgement of the person. What fictional, literary accounts can do, if used mindfully, is to provide us with a ‘safe ground’ for the exploration of teaching/learning concepts, beliefs and feelings without exposing participants too much. If all stories have the mythical, mimetic, cathartic, phronetic and ethical functions that Kearny tells us about, fictional narratives may be as useful for triggering analysis and reflection as historical ones. Besides that, there is a limit to the amount of experience a human being can have in a lifetime and ‘there are many situations when we have to learn from secondary or mediated experience’ (Jarvis et al, 2003: 67). No person can have all the experience and knowledge in the world and we need the fictionality of literature to complement our own limited experiences and views of the world. As Bruner (1979) puts it,

No person is master of the whole culture…each man lives a fragment of it. To be whole he must create his own version of the world, using that part of his cultural heritage he has made his own through education. (1979: 116) Furthermore, only literature can ‘absorb everything from natural or human life into its own imaginative body’ (Frye: 1964: 71-2). Literature is the embodiment of the combining power of imagination to bring into life people who inhabit places beyond the spatial-temporal realm we live in, to give voice and feelings to objects and express feelings and ideas that we can appropriate. According to Frye (1964),

Literature as a whole is…the range of articulated human imagination as it extends from the height of imaginative heaven to the depths of imaginative hell. Literature is a human apocalypse, man’s revelation to man (1964: 105) Poetry and fictional narratives, such as novels, short stories and films, are powerful tools teacher educators can use to bring to the surface teachers’ beliefs, conceptual systems and perceptions of the teaching-learning process. For instance, films in which the main characters are teachers (Appendix E) or novels where schools are part of the plot can provide excellent material for discussion and disclosure (Appendix F). Short stories and even graded readers, in case participants are non-native speaker trainee teachers still improving their command of English, can also be a useful source of 71

narratives. An adaptation of Prowse’s (2002) principles for extensive reading (Fig.6) could be used by teacher trainers as some working principles when including narratives in their teacher education programmes and also serve as material for discussion with participants on the approach adopted to the exploration of fictional narratives in both initial and continuing professional development programmes.

1. Choice

All the research into extensive reading points towards 'free voluntary reading'. Give participants a menu of story options which are related to the issue you are interested in. Ease of reading does not preclude engagement and I would prioritise books which make the reader keep turning the pages.

2. Ease

3. Texts to engage with and react to

When reading is easy and pleasurable people read more and the learning benefits grow with the amount read.

4. No comprehension questions

The natural response to a book is emotional or intellectual, and comprehension questions are neither of these.

5. Individual silent reading

Reading at the participants' own pace while they turn the text into a theatre in their mind is vastly preferable to reading aloud, or 'barking at print.' Well-written literature contextualises, glosses and repeats any lexical items. The use of a dictionary (essential for intensive reading) prevents the reader from developing valuable guessing skills. Make a wide range of genres available to the learner – the choice of reading material is very personal. You may also include different media versions of a story, such a as films, music and drama. Reading and listening at the same time conveys great benefits in improving sound-symbol correspondence and in increasing reading speed. Testing gets in the way of reading. The true test of reading is when a participant starts another book. The teacher trainer must read the same books as the participants so as to be able to discuss the stories with them.

6. No dictionaries

7. Range of genres

8. Use recordings

9. No tests

10. Teacher trainer participation

Fig. 6: Using literature in teacher education - some working principles. (Adapted from Prowse, 2002: 142-4) 72

Literature is always the fruit of imagination, whatever we consider it as divine inspiration, human subjective creativity or a socio-historical construct. If we want to engage the imagination of our trainee teachers and give them glimpses of different possible worlds, literature should be part of our repertoire of activities and tasks in teacher education.


In this chapter I have argued that the use of metaphors and narratives has a broad and important purpose in teacher education, i.e., the function of promoting reflection, professional and personal development and facilitate educational change. Subsequently, we analysed the roles of metaphors, biographies, teachers’ narratives and literature to help us to achieve these objectives. Appendices C to F provide examples of metaphor and narrative activities that can be used in both initial and continuing professional development programmes.


I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were.… Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. Jackson, P. (2002)

Every story must have an ending, even if each ending means also the beginning of something else. In this study we have started with a brief look at the status and state of imagination in ELT publications, CPD programmes and ITE syllabus. We then examined how imagination is understood in different philosophical traditions and how these conceptualisations have influenced some of our ELT teacher education models and practices. After that, we analysed the interplay between imagination, knowledge, reflection and educational change. Finally, we looked at the role of metaphor and narratives for engaging teachers’ imagination in teacher education. The question now is, ‘What comes next? ‘

This study is like one of those stories which have an open ending. It is up to the reader to decide how it ends: to imagine what happens to the characters and how a sequel could be. It is up to teacher educators to decide whether imagination really matters and will continue in teacher education or we will accept the postmodern announcement that imagination has died with Man. This is a decision that each teacher educator has to make by him/herself. What I can do in the conclusion of this study is just to share my own decision and tell my readers where I stand.

And I stand with Kearney (1988) when he says that,

If the deconstruction of imagination admits no epistemological limits…it must recognize ethical limits. Here an now in the face of the postmodern interminable deferment and infinite regress, of floating signifiers and vanishing signifieds, here and now I face an other who demands of me an ethical response. (1988: 361) (Emphasis in the original)


I do not think we can go back to the comfort of believing in a metaphysical source of imagination that has planned everything for us, or that we can be naïve enough to believe in the power of Man to control our world. Nor there is a way to ignore the postmodern view that we are social beings made up of multiple identities in a world that many times makes little sense. What we can do with this ‘we shouldn’t be here, but we are’ is to look at each others’ faces and recognise in the other what we all have in common. When Kearney talks about an ethical response to the face of the other (1988: 361-8), we should think of the faces of our trainee teachers and our language learners and tell them here we are. Imagination should be the principle that makes us see the differences and similarities among us and lead us to an ethical, reflective and committed response to them in an attempt to make, if not the world, which is too big a thing, at least teacher education a better place than it is at the moment.

Imagination in teacher education is not only about telling stories and using songs, paintings and films in language learning. It is not just about designing creative and innovative activities and tasks. It is also about that, but not only. Imagination in teacher education has a much important role. It is the ‘combining power’ that can bring knowledge, reflection, and change. It is the magical spark of light that can transform language instructors into educators.



APPENDIX A – Major schools of thought and their influences on teacher education
Major thinkers & writers Hebrew commentators Major texts Influences on Teacher Education in Past and Present Times

Periods (circa)

Major religious and philosophical systems

Biblical Times

Hebraic Scholasticism

(before 500 BC)

The Old Testament Talmudic Texts The Republic Poetics, De Anima

Ancient Greece & Rome (500 BC–400) Augustine Thomas Aquinas Confessions Summa Theologica

Platonism Aristotelian philosophy

Plato Aristotle

Medieval Europe (500-1300’s)

Church Scholasticism Neo-Platonism

Imagination and creativity are acceptable as long as they generate behaviours, materials and classroom procedures that ensure that the ‘true’ and ‘stable’ values of the professional culture are preserved and passed on. Knowledge and methodologies are transmitted to teachers and student teachers by ELT ‘experts’, who are the ‘gatekeepers’ to the profession. Teacher education follows a didactic, monologic, authoritarian and externally controlled model.

Renaissance (1400-1500’s) René Descartes John Locke David Hume Immanuel Kant

Aristotelian rationalism Reformation

Martin Luther William Tyndale

Enlightenment (1600’s)



The Ninety-Five Thesis Translation of the Bible in English Meditations on Philosophy An Essay Concerning Human Understanding A Treatise of Human Nature Critique of Pure Reason

Spread of ‘scientific’ teaching methods and teacher training courses. Teaching is seen as a science; classroom observation for supervision purposes; proliferation of research in education; focus on skills and competencies development; focus on ‘objective’ forms of assessment and evaluation of performance; examinations and certificates based on ‘international’ language and competencies frameworks ; teacher as a manager.


Georgian to Victorian Times (1700-1800’s) William Wordsworth Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘Preface’ to the Lyrical Ballads Biographia Literaria


Imagination promoted in EFL in the 198090’s; proliferation of classroom materials to use literature, songs and drama. In teacher education the focus is on the development of teacher and student teachers’ self-esteem and selfunderstanding; focus on formative assessment; humanistic and ‘holistic’, constructivist approaches.

Present times (1900-2000’s) Louis Pierre Althusser


Jean Paul Sartre


Michel Foucault

Roland Barthes Jacques Derrida Mikhail Bahktin Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari

Imagination: A Psychological Critique Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists. The order of things: an archaeology of the human sciences. Image-Music-Text Of Grammatology The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays A Thousand Plateaus

Learner-centred approaches in EFL, focus on learners’ autonomy; advent of English as a lingua franca. Focus on the development of teachers and student teachers’ critical thinking and critical literacy skills; reflection and critical analysis as main components of professional development; end of the supremacy of the native-speaker; contextualisation and teacher participation in the development of syllabuses; ‘ecological’ approaches to teacher education.


APPENDIX B - Literary references
Further information and web links Subtitled The Emanation of the Giant Albion, the last, longest, and greatest in scope of the prophetic books written and illustrated by Blake. It tells the story of the fall of Albion, Blake's embodiment of man, Britain, or the western world as a whole. (

Author(s) Blake, W.

Title / Year 1 Jerusalem (1820)

Dickens, C.

Hard Times (1854)

Dickens’ tenth novel is a story that highlights the social and economic pressures of the times and the divide between capitalistic mill owners and undervalued workers during the Victorian era. (

Guest, Charlotte (ed)

The Mabinogion (1838-49)

A collection of eleven prose Welsh stories collated from 13th century manuscripts with tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions. (

Golding, W.

Lord of the Flies (1954)

An allegorical novel by Nobel Prize-winning William Golding which discusses how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.(

Milton, J.

Paradise Lost (1667)

An epic poem in blank verse which narrates the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. (


Rowling, J.K.

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling which narrate the adventures of the adolescent wizard and his friends in a struggle against evil. ( A comedy which portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, and with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. ( A pastoral comedy based upon the novel Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge. It follows the adventures of the heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and eventually love in the Forest of Arden. ( The play's main character is Prospero, the rightful but banished Duke of Milan, who uses his magical powers to punish his enemies when he raises a tempest that drives them ashore. The entire play takes place on an island whose native inhabitants, Ariel and Caliban, respectively aid and hinder his work. ( The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man. It is often considered the first fully realized science fiction novel due to its pointed, though gruesome, focus on playing God by creating life from dead flesh. ( AVictorian ballad which recasts Arthurian subject matter loosely based on medieval sources. The poem narrates the story of a Lady who lives alone on an island upstream from Camelot and who is curse to see the outside world only through a mirror in her room. (

Shakespeare, W.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1623) 2

Shakespeare, W.

As You Like It (1623)

Shakespeare, W.

The Tempest (1623)

Shelley, M

Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus (1818)

Tennyson, A.L.

The Lady of Shalott (1833)


The Church of England

King James’s Bible (1611)

The Authorized Version is the translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 by the Church of England. The task of translation was undertaken by 47 scholars, commissioned by James I, who worked in six committees, two based in each of the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and Westminster. ( A collection of Tolkien's works edited and published posthumously which describes the universe of Middle-earth from the creation of Eä, to the Downfall of Númenor and its people and the circumstances which led to the events in Lord of the Rings. ( An epic high fantasy novel whose influences include philology, mythology, and religion as well as Tolkien's experiences in World War I. It has inspired artwork, music, films and television, video games, and subsequent literature. ( Generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth, with Coleridge contributing only four poems to the collection, including one of his most famous works, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ ( (

Tolkien, J.R.R.

Silmarillion (1977)

Tolkien, J.R.R

Lord of the Rings (1954-55)

Wordsworth, W. and S.T. Coleridge

Lyrical Ballads (1789-1800)

1. Year of the first official publication, as entered in the Stationers’ Company.

2. The plays were published in the 1623 First Folio, a collection of Shakespeare’s writings edited by John Heminges and Henry Condell. The British Library holds five original copies.


APPENDIX C - A metaphor for the EFL classroom

Trainers’ Notes

Training context: ITE programmes and/or CPD events Format: workshop Length: 90 minutes Number of participants: approx. 25 Language proficiency level: upper-intermediate onwards


Task 1. Introduce the concept of metaphor, firstly by eliciting the meaning of the word. Tell participants that one of the possible definitions is the one given by the Oxford Online Dictionary and refer participants to the worksheet. Participants discuss the questions in pairs or small groups. After that, ask participants to share their ideas with the whole group. about 15-20 minutes.

Task 2. Comment briefly that the garden and the theatre are quite often used by teachers and ELT writers as a metaphor to describe the ELT classroom and ask participants to discuss the possible similarities and differences between these images, contrasting and contrasting the physical space, the objects and materials, the role of the teacher and students in each metaphor. about 15-20 minutes.

Task 3. Distribute blank sheets of A4 or A3 paper, felt pens or other drawing materials. Give participants enough time to think about their own metaphors. When they finish their drawings, invite them to show their work and comment on their choice and the reasons for that. You may decide to make a display of their work on the walls of the training room. about 40-50 minutes.


Participants’ worksheet

Metaphors for the EFL Classroom
Task 1. What is a metaphor? Read the definition below and discuss the questions in pairs or small groups. A metaphor is a figure of speech that goes further than a simile, either by saying that something is something else that it could not normally be called, e.g. • • The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas Stockholm, the Venice of the North

or by suggesting that something appears, sounds, or behaves like something else, e.g. • • • burning ambition the long arm of the law blindingly obvious.

Metaphors are not only used in literature; they are part of our everyday language when we use figurative language and idioms, especially when we talk about concepts and feelings. For example, can you think of at least two metaphors for Love?

In your opinion, why do people use metaphors?

Task 2. Metaphors are frequently used by some ELT writers. Look at the pictures below and discuss with your partner what these things could have in common with the English language classroom.

Task 3. Use

your imagination

What is your own metaphor for the EFL classroom? Draw it in a sheet of paper and write some notes about it. What are the similarities and differences? Why have you chosen it? Show your drawing to your colleagues and share your ideas about it.


APPENDIX D - This is my story: teachers’ biographies
Trainers’ Notes

Training context: ITE programmes and/or CPD events Format: workshop Length: 90 minutes Number of participants: approx. 25 Language proficiency level: upper-intermediate onwards


Task 1. Start the session telling participants that you are going to tell them the story of how you became an EFL teacher and teacher trainer. You may decide to create a PowerPoint presentation with some personal photos for that. Invite questions and then conclude referring participants to the worksheet. Give them some minutes to think about the questions and then ask them to discuss their answers in pairs or small groups. about 30-40 minutes.

Task 2. Explain that origin of the extract and give participants time to read it and underline the parts of the text that call their attention. Discuss the questions in small groups or as a whole group. about 30 minutes.

Task 3. Ask participants if they have any experience writing journals. Ask them to take some notes based on Task 1 and assign the writing as a follow-up activity. If students are interested in creating a blog and if you have access to the internet you may decide to show them how to open a personal blog. Provide some links. about 20 minutes.

Wordpress Blogger


Participants’ worksheet

This is my story…
Task 1. Every story has a beginning and the story of your career as an English language teacher is not different. Take some minutes in silence to think about the following questions and then share your thoughts with your partner.

Do you remember the first time you considered the possibility of becoming an EFL teacher? When was it?

What was your first lesson or teaching practice session like? Where and when was it? Do you remember your students? How were you feeling before getting into the classroom? And when you left?

Who are the people that have influenced you and your ‘teaching style’ so far?

Task 2. Read the extract below, which was taken from a teacher’s blog. What are the advantages and disadvantages, if any, of keeping a teacher’s journal? Why do most ITE courses nowadays include this sort of writing as part of the assessment process? How can teachers’ biographies help in the process of professional development?

Setting off September 30, 2008 Yesterday it was our first session with our tutor and he started with a couple of ice-breakers, including that one of drawing the professional road that took us to this course. There was no time to talk to everyone in the group but we will certainly learn more about each others’ backgrounds next Thursday, when each of us will make a brief presentation about our professional profiles. Our tutor has also asked us to start a learning journal and so here I am. He also gave us a couple of questions to guide us in our reflections. I’ll come back to some of them in future posts. Today I just want to say that what really called my attention in the group is how much in common and how much different we are. Common ground comes from ELT teaching; diversity comes from cultural, geographical and historical backgrounds. How productive and able to develop and mature this group will be will depend a lot on what we can make of both similarities and differences. This is true for any working group I suppose, but the fact that we are just six will make things much more complex.

Task 3. Use

your imagination

Imagine you have decided to start your own teacher’s journal, either writing notes on a notebook or creating your online blog. Write an entry about the beginning of your teaching career or the beginning of your Initial Teacher Education course. Use your thoughts and notes from Task 1 to write your text.


APPENDIX E - Film narratives: Mona Lisa Smile
Trainers’ Notes

Training context: ITE programmes and/or CPD events Format: workshop Length: 90 minutes Number of participants: approx. 25 Language proficiency level: upper-intermediate onwards


Task 1. Start by asking participants if the have seen or heard of the film Mona Lisa Smile. If so, elicit some information about it. You may decide to create a PowerPoint presentation with some screenshots of the film or, if you have access to the internet, you may decide to browse through the film official website and explore some of its interactive features ( After that, refer participants to the worksheet and ask them to discuss the questions in pairs or small groups. about 30-40 minutes.

Task 2. Refer students to the information about Van Gog’s Sunflowers in the worksheet and tell them that you are going to watch a scene of the film related to the painting. After watching it, ask students to discuss in small groups what they think the main messages conveyed in the scene are. You may decide to have a whole group discussion as well. about 20-30 minutes.

Task 3. Refer students to Task 3 in the worksheet. If they have not watched any related films, you may suggest a few titles such as Dead Poets Society, Brilliant Minds, or Renaissance Man.. Depending on the training context you may ask students to submit their piece of writing or write it as part of their portfolio/journal. End the session showing the scene in which Ms. Watson receives her students’ on versions of Van Gogh’s painting. about 20 minutes.


Participants’ worksheet

Mona Lisa Smile
Task 1. Some films have teachers as main characters. One of the most recent of these films is Mona Lisa Smile, starring Julia Roberts. Read the plot summary below and discuss the questions with your colleagues. Mona Lisa Smile (2003) Katherine Ann Watson has accepted a position teaching art history at the prestigious Wellesley College. Watson is a very modern woman, particularly for the 1950s, and has a passion not only for art but for her students. For the most part, the students all seem to be biding their time, waiting to find the right man to marry. The students are all very bright and Watson feels they are not reaching their potential. Although a strong bond is formed between teacher and student, Watson's views are incompatible with the dominant culture of the college.

Do you know any other films where the teacher develops a special relationship with his/her students? Tell your colleagues about the plot.

What are the similarities and differences between these fictional stories and life stories of real teachers? What can these stories tell us about the process of teaching/learning?

Task 2. In one scene of the film Ms. Watson discuss with her students the activity of creating replicas of a famous Van Gogh work through painting by numbers. Watch the scene and, in pairs, discuss what you think the main messages conveyed in the scene are.

This is one of four paintings of sunflowers dating from August and September 1888. Van Gogh intended to decorate Gauguin's room with these paintings in the so-called Yellow House that he rented in Arles in the South of France. The dying flowers are built up with thick brushstrokes. The impasto evokes the texture of the seed-heads. Van Gogh produced a replica of this painting in January 1889, and perhaps another one later in the year. The various versions and replicas remain much debated among Van Gogh scholars.
© Copyright The National Gallery 2009

Task 3. Use

your imagination

Write a critical review of another film whose plot involves a teacher and his/her students. Briefly summarise the plot and tell how relevant this story is for your professional development as an ELT teacher.


APPENDIX F - Novel narratives: Hard Times
Trainers’ Notes Training context: ITE programmes and/or CPD events Format: workshop Length: 90 minutes Number of participants: approx. 25 Language proficiency level: upper-intermediate onwards


Task 1. The objective here is to unpack participants’ classroom experiences as learners and the treatment their own imagination received in their learning process. Ask participants to share some information about these episodes with their partners. Some may have reservations to share their experiences publicly. Acknowledge their right to privacy and ask them just to ponder on such events. about 20-30 minutes.

Task 2. Set the scene for Dickens’s Novel Hard Times. Some participants may have read it and, if so, elicit some information about it. Provide bibliography and links to the novel, in case participants feel interested in reading the whole text. Ask participants to read the extract silently and then discuss the questions in pairs or small groups. You may want to have a brief whole group discussion after that. about 20-30 minutes.

Task 3. In pairs or small groups refer to Task 3 and give participants time to draw their review and make their suggestions. Pairs or groups present their proposals to the whole group. about 30-40 minutes.

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times.


Participants’ worksheet

Hard Times
Task 1. Can you remember any situation in the classroom when you were a child or teenager that you believe has had implications for the way you see teaching/learning nowadays? Would you share some information about it with your partner?

Task 2. Hard Times is Dickens’ tenth novel and the plot highlights the social and economic pressures of Victorian times and the divide between capitalistic mill owners and undervalued workers. The first scene happens is the ‘plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room.’ Read the extract below where the teacher and Mr. Gradgrind warn one of the little pupils about the dangers of ‘fancying.’

'So you would carpet your room - or your husband's room, if you were a grown woman, and had a husband - with representations of flowers, would you?' said the gentleman. 'Why would you?' 'If you please, sir, I am very fond of flowers,' returned the girl. 'And is that why you would put tables and chairs upon them, and have people walking over them with heavy boots?' 'It wouldn't hurt them, sir. They wouldn't crush and wither, if you please, sir. They would be the pictures of what was very pretty and pleasant, and I would fancy - ' 'Ay, ay, ay! But you mustn't fancy,' cried the gentleman, quite elated by coming so happily to his point. 'That's it! You are never to fancy.' 'You are not, Cecilia Jupe,' Thomas Gradgrind solemnly repeated, 'to do anything of that kind.' 'Fact, fact, fact!' said the gentleman. And 'Fact, fact, fact!' repeated Thomas Gradgrind. • Do you remember doing any activities at school that stimulated your imagination and creativity? What were they? • Why do you think that after primary school, imagination and creativity are usually absent from classroom activities? • Would developing their own imagination help teachers to become better professionals? If so, how?

Task 3. Use

your imagination

Imagine you have been asked to participate in a committee that will review the syllabus of a teacher education programme in order to include more imaginative content to it. What kind of ‘modules’ would you include and what sort of materials would you use to achieve this goal? In small groups prepare a short proposal with some suggestions.



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