AuthorMacknight, Vicki Sandra
AffiliationArts - School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsMacknight, V. S. (2009). Teaching imagination. PhD thesis, Arts - School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2009 Dr. Vicki Sandra Macknight
This thesis is about the teaching imagination. By this term I refer to three things. First, the teaching imagination is how teachers define and practice imagination in their classrooms. Second, it is the imagination that teachers themselves use as they teach. And thirdly, it is the imagination I am taught to identify and enact for doing social science research. The thesis is based upon participant-observation research conducted in grade four (and some composite grade three/four) classrooms in primary schools in Melbourne, a city in the Australian state of Victoria. The research took me to five schools of different types: independent (or fee-paying); government (or state); Steiner (or Waldorf); special (for low IQ students); and Catholic. These five classrooms provide a range, not a sample: they suggest some ways of doing imagination. I do not claim a necessary link between school type and practices of imagination. In addition I conducted semi-structured interviews with each classroom’s teacher and asked that children do two tasks (to draw and to write about ‘a time you used your imagination’). From this research I write a thesis in two sections. In the first I work to re-imagine certain concepts central to studies of education and imagination. These include curriculum, classrooms, and ways of theorizing and defining imagination. In this section I develop a key theoretical idea: that the most recent Victorian curriculum is, and social science should be, governed by what I call a logic of realization. Key to this idea is that knowers must always be understood as participants in, not only observers of, the world. In the second section I write accounts of five case studies, each learning from a different classroom teacher about one way to understand and practice imagination. We meet imagination as creative transformation; imagination as thinking into other perspectives; imagination as representation; imagination as the ability to relate oneself to the people and materials one is surrounded by; and imagination as making connections and separations in thought. In each of these chapters I work to re-enact that imagination in my own writing. Using the concept of the ‘relational teacher’, one who flexibly responds to changing student needs and interests, I suggest that some of these imaginations are more suitable to a logic of realization than others.
Keywordsimagination; primary school; Victoria; VELS
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