Pedagogies of the Imagination: Mythopoetic Curriculum in Educational Practice

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9789048178308: Pedagogies of the Imagination: Mythopoetic Curriculum in Educational Practice

I have long admired the mythopoetic tradition in curriculum studies. That admiration followed from my experience as a high-school teacher of English in a wealthy suburb of New York City at the end of the 1960s. A “dream” job―I taught four classes of 15–20 students during a nine-period day―in a “dream” suburb (where I could afford to reside only by taking a room in a retired teacher’s house), many of these often Ivy-League-bound students had everything but meaningful lives. This middle-class, Midwestern young teacher was flabbergasted. In one sense, my academic life has been devoted to understanding that searing experience. Matters of meaning seemed paramount in the curriculum field to which Paul Klohr introduced me at Ohio State. Klohr assigned me the work of curriculum theorists such as James B. Macdonald. Like Timothy Leonard (who also studied with Klohr at Ohio State) and Peter Willis, Macdonald (1995) understood that school reform was part of a broader cultural and political crisis in which meaning is but one casualty. In the mythopoetic tradition in curriculum studies, scholars labor to understand this crisis and the conditions for the reconstruction of me- ing in our time, in our schools.

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This book is about the practice of Imaginal Knowing in education. Imaginal knowing is not fantasy, but is linked to the way humans imagine the real world. Imaginal knowing moves the heart, holds the imagination, finds the fit between self-stories, public myths, and the content of cultural knowledge. It is deeply personal, yet open to the universe. The curriculum, as conceptualized here, is the medium through which imaginal knowing is evoked in both teachers and students.

Educators from United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada offer a vision of educational practice seasoned in years of reflective pedagogic engagement. They speak here of a genuine and practical alternative to overly bureaucratic educational processes that can crush learners through a closed system of arbitrary standards and mindless testing. There is hope that education at all levels from elementary to professional, graduate and post compulsory education has the capacity to break out of these artificial constraints. These authors show us ways to make this possible.

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