We imagine, therefore, we invent

As I write this, it is raining outside. The sun has gone into hiding for the past two days, and the music from my radio is drowned out by the sound of a steady downpour. I imagine this is the case in much of our country – grey skies and wet roads, damp clothes and biscuits that go soggy within a moment of being put on the plate. And then of course, over everything is the cloud that we have become so familiar with: Covid-19. In some ways, we have forgotten how to think about life, to make plans. Most people I speak to say they are “taking it one day at a time”. Even as we adapt to the new demands and expectations being placed on us, we limit ourselves from thinking too much about the future. In some ways, we are telling ourselves, “we’ll deal with the future when it comes”.

But imagination is a tough thing to restrain. It finds ways to escape into heads, turning fears into possibilities, changing “what?” to “what if?” Often, it’s the force that shapes the future.

So, for this issue, we asked some of our contributors to put their imaginations to work and tell us what they saw. What might our collective classroom (or beyond classroom) future look like? How would we look as we emerged from this cocooned moment? Some of the stories were hard pragmatic analyses of the moment and its lessons. Others were softer, more hopeful visions of perspectives gained. And yet others struck a cautionary note, or pointed to adaptations that would help us cope.

But in all, they make for some engaging and thought-provoking reading. Pandemics and other crises have always served as fodder for the imagination. They have prompted artists to create work that has resonated far beyond its time, to be revisited when the next great disaster strikes. This is why sales for books that tell such stories have risen in these times: Albert Camus’ The Plague, or Daniel Defoe’s Chronicles of the Plague Years, or, closer home, stories about the Great Bengal Famine and the impact in India of the 1918 Spanish Flu. While many of these accounts are sobering, they also give us a sense that the worst times are inevitably followed by something a bit better. They lead us to re-think our approach to things, and question our priorities.

But Teachers’ Day is also a time to celebrate and acknowledge our lives as teachers, the small victories we have had over the years, and the possibilities that unfold every day in our interactions with children. Take that moment and treat yourself to something nice!

Happy teachers’ day!

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