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Title: Planning purposeful imaginative activities in creative contexts for children's literacy
Author: Smyth, Pamela S.
Awarding Body: University of Greenwich
Current Institution: University of Greenwich
Date of Award: 2010
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Although children in primary schools in England are required to write imaginatively in order to gain optimum marks in statutory tests, an emphasis is often placed on revising decontextualised genre features, grammar and spelling. I wondered whether there was a place for creativity and imagination within the apparent constraints of a curriculum for English that had become defined by objectives and teaching procedures imposed by national strategies to raise literacy standards. Using a definition of creativity as purposeful imaginative activity, I set out to explore how teachers could interpret the objectives imaginatively and plan meaningful contexts for literacy, even in a climate of changing curriculum emphases. My thesis reports on three cycles of reflective, collaborative action research focused on literacy planning, in order to theorise meanings in relation to my values, understanding and practice. As a result of the research, approaches to planning sequences of purposeful imaginative activities that embed literacy concepts in meaningful creative contexts are exemplified. Evidence from an analysis of literacy plans for children in classrooms across the primary phase shows that teachers use their professional imaginations to plan their provision for children to read and write imaginatively – their statutory national curriculum entitlement (DfEE, 2000). We found that children’s literacy improves when they dwell in possible worlds as, for example, curators, custodians or concerned villagers, using the powerful resource of their own, and collective, imaginations. In addition, an analysis of drawings revealed evidence of the effort and effect of children’s somatic and affective imaginations. The work is underpinned by theories of: aesthetic appreciation and representation; child-centred, holistic pedagogy; inclusive creative processes; and the imagination as a resource for creating meaning. My ideas have been challenged and developed by academics such as Pat D'Arcy on literacy, Robert Sternberg on creativity, and Ken Robinson on imagination, in particular. As a result of the research, two conceptual tools for planning were developed and tested. They are underpinned by theory and professional experience and have been used effectively in schools during and beyond the research project. Components of the creative process were identified as motivating ideas, associating ideas, generating ideas, innovating ideas and communicating ideas, and became the MAGIC planning tool. Components of the imagination's repertoire were identified as auditory, kinaesthetic, tactile, emotional and visual, and became the AKTEV imagination repertoire. These represent the living education theories that have transformed my practice, and are offered as a contribution to the field of primary English education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LC Special aspects of education