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Posted on: 11th November 2013 | Category: Principal's Blog

When I was appointed to Surval I was asked which words best explain my vision for the girls. To be put on the spot in this way was a challenge: so many words instantly sprang to mind. I settled for three words beginning with ‘I’: imagination, initiative and independence. I believe that these three qualities lead logically from one to the other, and I propose to say something about each over the next few months.

A few years ago a newspaper cartoon showed a child holding a jam jar, in which was an unpleasant and unidentifiable blob. The caption read: ‘The school nurse removed my imagination today. She said it was over-active and it prevents me from learning by heart’.

 A surgeon cannot perform a heart bypass operation without instruments; without what one might call a tool kit.  If he is to operate successfully, he must have the instruments, or he will be left standing unable to help. We too have tools for being human, and in our toolkit one of the greatest is imagination.  It is a most powerful weapon for attack, defence, survival: but above all for invention and creativity. All we have to do is to exercise our imagination and so become fully human.

With imagination, we see beyond ourselves, beyond our immediate environment and circumstances, seeing a picture in our mind which we make into something real and tangible: a painting, a sculpture, a machine, a poem, a loaf of bread.

It is possible to go through life with so little imagination that one is virtually a machine: wasn’t that Lady Macbeth’s problem – that she had no imagination? Without it, we have no power of selection, no alternative to our own thoughts, words or actions. No one is really without the gift of imagination; it is part of being human.  But having the gift is not the same as using it. It needs to be used and developed. You may have read Miroslav Holub’s inspiring poem, ‘a boy’s head’. Holub recognises that each of us is a unique human being whose ability to think and imagine is infinite, and makes the world a rich and unpredictable place. It is the human capacity to imagine and invent that will ensure our survival as human beings and our continuing development as inventors and pioneers of knowledge.

So, as the poet and visionary William Blake wrote centuries earlier, we need to practise:

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower

To hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour


Blake was a true visionary – and in his work ‘Imagination and Vision’ he urges each of us to use that wonderful God given power to make us more aware of the glory and grandeur of God.

The marks of imagination are that a person lives creatively: creatively in the way he can see alternatives in life. He is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others because he can imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes; he can be sympathetic with, suffer with, rejoice with, another.  He is alert because all the things and people around him excite him and activate his imagination. There is no limit to the possibilities which surround him.

This great gift of creative and sensitive imagination is one we want to develop and cherish in our students.

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