Subtitle: Imagination taking power

‘From What Is to What If’ reviewed in Times Educational Supplement

Here is a review from the just-published Times Educational Supplement:

One might expect a book with the title ‘What If’ to be somewhat whimsical, almost airy-fairy, in its approach to some of the core questions that underpin our society and our future, yet this book is anything but.

The introduction sets out a charming, idyllic utopian world. Rob Hopkins presents us with a future ini which communities and environments blossom, political furore no longer looms, education is no longer all about exam results and, most significantly, a future in which people work together for the common good.

What is most extraordinary about this book is that Hopkins puts forward an array of examples, case studies and evidence that shows that this ‘ideal’ is achievable. Much of what is needed is already being done around the world in small pockets of communities, industries and educational sectors.

He poses questions such as “What if we started asking better questions?”, “What if we considered imagination vital to our health?”. It is the big “What if”. Hopkins has reached out to these pockets across an array of sectors to provide, to some end, the answers to these huge questions.

He asks us: “What if school nurtured young imaginations?” Of course, we’d all love to believe that imagination is fostered within the classroom, yet, as Hopkins highlights, “26 percent [of children] feel as though they do not need to use their imagination for their study or schoolwork”. He then provides numerous examples of where imagination is being fostered and nurtured, such as in The Green School in Copenhagen or the School of the Possible in France.

By the end of the book, the “utopian ideal” that was set out in Hopkins’ introduction seems somewhat less distant, somewhat more achievable, and all it really takes is a bit of imagination.

Charly Barrett is assistant principal, Glenmoor and Winton Academies, Bournemouth. 



  1. Steve Allin
    December 4, 2019

    Great to see the Educational establishment ‘so to speak’ recognizing the importance of this book and the much needed refocusing on the Imagination. Lets hope many Teachers will read it.

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