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Perceptions and possibilities: a school community's imaginings for a future 'curriculum for excellence'

Drew V (2013) Perceptions and possibilities: a school community's imaginings for a future 'curriculum for excellence'. Doctor of Education. University of Stirling.

This thesis reports research undertaken to explore a school community's imaginings for secondary education for future generations. The research was designed to trouble the seemingly straightforward constructs of imagination and creativity, not merely to trace or audit their inclusion in the secondary curriculum, but rather to invite a secondary school community to put these constructs to work in exploring their imaginings and desires for good education 25-30 years ahead. The objectives used to structure the research involved: tracing the discourses of imagination and creativity in education curriculum policy; exploring a school community's experiences and perceptions of secondary education; examining a school community's imaginings for future secondary education; and exploring a school community's desires for a future ‘curriculum for excellence'. The research was carried out during the development phase of Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive 2004a) in Scotland which is explicit in its desire to provide opportunities for school communities to be/come imaginative and creative. This is not a new aspiration as imagination and creativity are familiar and enduring constructs in education. At a policy level the resurgence of interest in (imagination and) creativity is closely aligned to a desire for economic sustainability. The focus of my study is to explore how the concepts of imagination and creativity might become an impetus for the school community to think differently about good education for future generations. The study took place in a large comprehensive school community in a rural town in Scotland. Groups of participants, including pupils, parents, early-career teachers, mid-career teachers and school managers were drawn from across the school community. The method of data collection was adapted from Open Space Technology (Owen 2008) to provide an unstructured forum for participants to discuss their experiences and imaginings. A theoretical framework which offered a way of thinking differently about the data was devised from readings of concepts drawn from Deleuze (1995) and Deleuze and Guattari (2004) and used to analyse the school community's perceptions, imaginings and desires. The findings suggest that whilst the new curriculum seems to open up a space for imagination and creativity the school community's imaginings tend to be orientated to past experiences and/or closely aligned to the policy imaginary which appears to close down openings and opportunities for becoming. However there was a discernible desire in the school community for ‘good' education in a fair and equitable system which appeared to be less narrowly focused on economic imperatives than that of the policy. I argue that there is a need for a new way of thinking about future education within current structures and systems which I have conceptualised as an ‘edu-imaginary interruption'. The thesis concludes with some reflections on the potential forms of such interruptions to impact on research and professional practice.

imagination; creativity; Deleuze; curriculum; Learning Educational psychology; Educational sociology

Author(s)Drew, Valerie
SupervisorsAllan, Julie
InstitutionUniversity of Stirling
QualificationDoctor of Education
Qualification levelDoctoral
Publication date31/12/2013
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