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What Do Expectations Have to Do With Learning?

Expectations are what we imagine might be true or what we think is likely to happen. Expectations are based on beliefs we have created in our imaginations that may or may not be true. Expectations are an anticipation of the future. They can be true or false, realistic or unrealistic. Expectations are assumptions about what is. They can be influenced by culture, collective belief systems, personal knowledge or imagination. If something occurs that is totally unexpected, it is surprising. If it is expected, then it is less so. Expectations set the stage for what we see and what we focus on. Most importantly, expectations have emotions or feelings attached to them. These emotions can be positive or negative based on what we expect to occur. Remember, imagination is one of the–if not the–most powerful words in learning.

Albert Einstein (1929) said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” Imagination is what we use to create. We can use it to create stories, theories or ideas. With imagination we get in touch with our own creativity. Imagination lets us recognize relationships and allows us to go where others have not yet gone.
Daniel Pink (2006) describes a right brain thinking process called “symphony.” Symphony, he says, is found in the right side of the brain which operates in a contextual, real-time and relationship-oriented manner. This, I would contend, is the part of the imagination which allows us to determine relationships yet undiscovered, to see the big picture and to invent something new. Bold leaps in consciousness and imagination are responsible for all our new discoveries. The mind literally “sees” a thing it has never seen before. Imagination connects with feelings, thinking and instincts. The imagination is what takes our thoughts to a whole new level of consciousness, allowing us to synthesize thoughts and to create new concepts, inventions and meaning.