Imaginative Inquiry and Systems Thinking

At the heart of Imaginative Inquiry is understanding that we are all part of a greater system. How does a stone knife found in an (imaginary) archeological dig fit into a bigger picture? Can we imagine ourselves as the person who used this knife, holding it in our hand? When and where would this be? How, exactly, would we hold it and what would we be doing with it? Who else would be in this picture? What does it mean to the people who used it? To the people who find it centuries later?

While systems thinking is by no means a drama convention, using drama and the imagination can help bring discrete objects and ideas to life, allowing students to explore their meaning and  implications in a specific context, time and place. Students step into a world where they can examine the parts of a system, the various roles and interrelationships, and the impact each part has on another. Because students in these lessons help shape the outcome of the fictional narrative, they become aware of their agency within these systems to innovate change and solutions for the future.

Take a look at some examples of how drama can be used to examine systems (click on link).

For more on using systems and design thinking in educational practices, see Project Zero’s Agency By Design.