The Elusive Keys of Imagination and Play: unlocking creativity and innovation in design and technology education - DATA International Research Conference: UK Keynote

Kay Stables
2004, Vol. 9, No. 3,


In the John Eggleston Memorial Keynote in 2002, Richard Kimbell identified the specific problem caused by a mismatch between “qualities at the heart of innovation” and current assessment criteria. At the core of this he identified two particularly problematic qualities: “the terrible two - the intractable two - the tantalising two ... the ability to be playful in restructuring the world and the ability to spark ideas”. (Kimbell 2002: 25)

This paper will take these “terrible two” as a starting point and explore in greater depth the relationship between these qualities and the concepts of imagination, play, fantasy and reality. It will identify the significance of these concepts for creativity and innovation and the potential they provide as a foundation for the development of creativity and innovation in humans. The paper will then tackle the knotty problem of utilising these concepts in levering open the historic problems of the “gridlocked” design and technology (D&T) curriculum, by drawing on evidence and insights gained from research from within and beyond D&T, including illustrations of how a current research project Assessing Innovation* is exploring ways in which play and imagination can be promoted such that they spark, enkindle and sustain creative responses within D&T experience.

Key Words creativity, innovation, play, playfulness, fantasy, imagination.

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