The Work of the Imagination

Dr. Owen Boynton knows that for students to be engaged in the classroom, their imaginations must be kindled. In the English classroom, where he has taught at MBS for six years, he chooses works, like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five or the Anthony Hecht poem “The Feast of Stephen,” that present students with perspectives and arguments that might come as a shock. Reading the texts, they are forced to see the world in a new light. “The Hecht poem has many layers, and makes the students just uncomfortable enough to be drawn in,” he explains. “It challenges their imaginations.” 

For the past year, in addition to teaching English, Dr. Boynton has served as Director of the new Center for Innovation and Design at MBS.  One of the central aims of the Center, he explains, is to encourage students and teachers alike “work their imaginations” through encounters with design puzzles and possibilities.   “Design, which is born of imagination, first requires dissatisfaction,” Mr. Boynton explains. “There needs to be a problem – a challenge – to generate the motivation necessary to go and create something new.” 

Dr. Boynton hopes the result will be better lessons, better student experiences, and new interdisciplinary experiences around the school. He has long found MBS to give students and teachers the space to experiment and take risks in how they teach. The Center adds to that space and gives it new orientation, both conceptually and physically. “Teachers have the freedom to be innovative, to reinvent their classes every year and to require students to think imaginatively.” With the Center for Innovation and Design, teachers and students have more to fuel how and what they imagine, and more resources for making their imaginations reality.

Dr. Boynton looks forward to how the CID will allow teachers to expand the scope of their lessons, to work together in new ways, and to create experiential learning opportunities that they might have long been itching to attempt. “Our students already have a tremendous amount of freedom and support to explore whatever fascinates them,” Mr. Boynton said. “The CID and the pedagogical shift it can represent for teachers will greatly increase where students can go in pursuit of those interests. They will find that the possibilities are as limitless as their imaginations. All they need to do is put those to work.”


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