The Educational Imagination

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9780023321108: The Educational Imagination

This paperback reprint of the 1994 edition is a highly regarded curriculum development book by one of the most prominent figures in the field. It is designed to help readers understand the major approaches to curriculum planning and the formation of educational goals. In this edition, Eisner provides a conceptual framework that shows learners the different ways in which the aims of education can be regarded...and, describes their implications for curriculum planning and teaching practices. Coverage is grounded in the belief that the appropriateness of any given educational practice is dependent upon the characteristics and context of the school program, and the values of the community that program serves. Chapter titles include: Schooling in America: Where Are We Headed; Some Concepts, Distinctions, and Definitions; Curriculum Ideologies; The Three Curricula That All Schools Teach; Educational Aims, Objectives, and Other Aspirations; Dimensions of Curriculum Planning; On the Art of Teaching; The Functions and Forms of Evaluation; Reshaping Assessment in Education; Some Examples of Educational Criticism; and A Criticism of an Educational Criticism. For teachers and anyone else involved in planning educational curriculums.

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This highly regarded curriculum development text is designed to help readers understand the major approaches to curriculum planning and the formation of educational goals. In this edition, Eisner provides a conceptual framework that shows students the different ways in which the aims of education can be regarded...and, describes their implications for curriculum planning and teaching practices. Coverage is grounded in the belief that the appropriateness of any given educational practice is dependent upon the characteristics and context of the school program, and the values of the community that program serves.

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The third edition of The Educational Imagination emerges in the midst of a fresh new national effort at educational reform. Past efforts have been less than successful. Will the current effort with its emphasis on national goals and measured achievement, on national standards and public report cards, on national curriculum frameworks and national teacher certification standards do the trick or will this reform effort echo the failed efforts of the past?

The Educational Imagination explores the current state of American education and provides a historical view of earlier efforts to reform our schools. It describes the ideological positions of those who wish to shape the aims and content of school programs in ways that reflect their values. It examines an array of important concepts used in the process of curriculum development and it often questions the premises on which these concepts rest. The major aim of this book is to make problematic what is often taken for granted either because of tradition or because of the attractiveness of new bandwagons rolling down the educational road. Educators, I believe, have a special responsibility to critique prevailing assumptions and proposed practices. To do this well requires a healthy intellectual skepticism, a propensity for critique, and an instructional memory. We need to be able to put new proposals for school improvement into a historical context if we are not to become new Columbuses rediscovering an old world that doesn't work. The Educational Imagination provides some of this context.

If there is one idea that permeates these pages, it is the belief that no single educational program is appropriate for all children, everywhere, forever. Which educational values are appropriate for children and adolescents depends on the characteristics of those the program is designed to serve, the features of the context in which they live, and the values that they and the community embrace. Further, these values and this context itself is likely to change over time. Looked at this way, the practice of education is a dynamic one, subject to change over time. This means that educators cannot rest with fixed solutions to educational problems or with "breakthroughs" that once and for all define or prescribe how and what should be done. Ours is a practical enterprise, and practical enterprises elude fixed solutions.

A word about some of the new features of the third edition of The Educational Imagination. A new first chapter addresses the current climate and prevailing policy impacting American schools. These policies rest on premises that deserve careful scrutiny by thoughtful educators. You will find serious questions raised about these policies in Chapter I. The third edition also includes a major replacement of the second edition's chapter on orientations to curriculum. The new chapter, "curriculum Ideologies," is a modified version of a chapter that was prepared for The Handbook of Research on Curriculum. I have included this chapter because I believe it addresses the issues more broadly, more deeply, and more adequately.

A new chapter on assessment has been added to the third edition. The concept of assessment is new in American educational discourse. It represents an effort to develop fresh ways of thinking about what has been historically regarded as "evaluation." The historical background of this development and its implications for practice are examined in this new chapter. In addition to the foregoing, a new example of an educational criticism written by Mary Burchenal has been added to the collection included in the previous edition. This new addition addresses the teaching of English and provides a fine illustration of the kind of writing that can shed light on the subtleties and dilemmas of teaching at the high school level.

Finally, numerous small changes were made in virtually all of the chapters, some of fact, others to clarify what was written.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to express my thanks to the five individuals who gave me permission to include their work in this volume. Lorna Catford, Barbara Porro, and Mary Burchenal were graduate students at Stanford who worked with me. Tom Barone, who also worked with me at Stanford, is now an Associate Professor of Education at Arizona State University. Stuart Cohen is Professor of Educational Psychology at Purdue University. All of these individuals have added much to the current edition. I am grateful to them.

I also want to express my appreciation to Valerie J. Janesick, University of Kansas, and Edmund C. Short, The Pennsylvania State University, for their insightful reviews of the text.

I also wish to thank Debbie Stollenwerk, my supportive and patient editor at Merrill. And, as always, I want to acknowledge the contributions of my wife, Ellie, who never fails to provide the love and the conditions that make it possible for me to get my work done.

Elliot W. Eisner
Stanford University

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