This paper is aimed to dwell upon the notions of the curriculum and imagination. It will point out the major issues of the curriculum. Besides, it will speculate on the concept of imagination. Finally, the paper will attempt to answer the question of whether present-day curriculums allow imagination to develop.
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The curriculum is acknowledged to be a normative document which is aimed to define the composition of educational subjects which are studied in an educational institution, their allocation in the years of education, the weekly and annual amount of time for each subject, as well as the structure of the educational year. The curriculum can be considered as a certificate of the educational institution. It is stated to be composed in accordance with the following principles: the achievements of the sciences, hygienic norms, objectivity, age approach, the achievement of the goal in each educational level, succession, the annual distribution of the subjects, a combination of the obligatory and facultative subjects, and types of the educational activities. The curriculum for public schools is claimed to be elemental. It is supposed to be worked out on a centralized basis.
However, there generally tend to be several alternatives so that each school has a possibility of choice. Innovative schools are likely to elaborate on their own curriculums based on the general educational standards (Lake 18). Apart from the above-mentioned, curriculum proves to play the role of an external limitation, which is aimed to determine the general framework of the solutions to the educational content and requirements for its acquisition. Besides, it establishes the requirements for the organization of the educational process. What is more, the curriculum is taken into account in the course of working out the budget and solving the related matters (Lake 24). Apart from that, the curriculum is used as one of the mechanisms of financing implementation. The curriculum is aimed to establish the recommended content of educational subjects and the amount of time, which is supposed to be allocated to each subject (Ladson-Billings 101-102).
The curriculum is acknowledged to consist of the following parts: obligatory and variable elements. The obligatory part is expected to guarantee the familiarization with the significant national and general cultural values, as well as the formation of the personal qualities which correspond to the public ideals. Besides, the obligatory part has the purpose of determining the content of the obligatory objective areas. As for the variable part, it includes the component of off-hour activities which are formed by the participants of the educational process (Lake 30). It is expected to contribute to the individual character of the students’ development, their interests, and inclinations, as well as the interest of the state in the accomplishment of the general education.
The time which is given to this part could be used to increase the number of scholar hours, to study particular school subjects from the obligatory part in detail, or to introduce educational courses which are aimed to develop various interests and skills of the students (Lake 42). Off-hour activity is organized in accordance with the following directions of personal development: intellectual, social, general cultural, ethical, and athletic. So as to ensure the development of talented and gifted children’s potential, it should be possible to work out individual curriculums together with the students and their parents. Individual curriculums entrain individual educational plans in the framework of which an individual educational program is supposed to be formed. An individual educational program should include the content of subjects, their modules, courses, and forms of education. Apart from that, it is possible to organize distance learning. Individual educational plans and programs should be accomplished with the help of a tutor (Moore et al. 151-152).
The curriculum is expected to contain two parts in accordance with the levels of general education, which are primary and secondary levels. The curriculum is assumed to be based on the image of the structure of the key general educational programs, as well as the image of the structure and content of the results which the general education is aimed to attain. The content of education in a particular educational institution is determined by the educational program. The sample basic educational programs are aimed to guarantee the possibility of a variable implementation of the educational content. Since the basic educational programs regulate the teaching process, their positions should have orienting and non-categorical character. This means that in case it is required due to the existing conditions, for instance, in the case of implementation of an experiment or author’s program, an educational institution has a possibility of stepping aside from the curriculum provided they fulfill the requirements related to the results of the education (Greene, “Imagination and Consciousness” 257-259).
Basic educational programs are expected to be supplemented by programs of the development of universal educational activities which are aimed to regulate different aspects of the acquisition of meta-objective skills. The elaboration of sample educational programs is primarily based on the image of the structure of general educational programs, the image of the structure and content of the results of the general educations, as well as on the concretization of the concept of the educational results which is reflected in the core of the general education content. Three types of educational programs are singled out: typical, working, and author’s.
Basic educational programs are worked out in accordance with the standard which is accepted for each subject. They are a recommendatory character. As for working educational programs, they are elaborated according to the basic programs and are approved by the principle. They reflect the requirements of the standard and the possibilities of a particular educational institution. When it comes to the author’s educational programs, they tend to take into account the state standard. However, they might have a different approach to the structure of any subject, as well as the author’s viewpoint of the consideration of theories, phenomena, and processes. Author’s programs are expected to undergo a procedure of certification and are approved by the council of each particular educational institution. Such programs are widespread in teaching various facultative courses (Egan 266-267).
The curriculum contains the following sections: the introduction, planned results of the program acquisition in each level, programs of separate subjects and courses, and the evaluation system for the results, which are aimed to be achieved in the course of the program acquisition. The programs of separate subjects are expected to contain variants of teaching planning as well as recommendations on the material and technical supplements of the educational subject. The content of education in the program might have different structures of representation. Nowadays, the most popular structures are admitted to be linear, concentric, spiral, and mixed. The linear structure means that the separate parts of the educational material form a continuous succession of tightly interconnected elements. Therefore, the content of education, or knowledge, is transmitted only once in a particular way. Any new material is taught based on the already study material, and they are interconnected. Such a structure appears to be economical. The concentric structure of representation implies the revision of the acquired knowledge.
One and the same question is revised several times to achieve the constantly enlarged profound level. In primary schools, educational programs are built in accordance with this principle. The concentric structure is required and justified from a pedagogical viewpoint in the cases when certain phenomena and decrees cannot be revealed, comprehended, and acquired at once, and their comprehension requires a particular depth of knowledge acquisition. Some examples are as follows: decrees of mechanics and electrical current, difficult physiological issues, and historical decrees. The necessity to revise the previously studied material is determined by nature and the mechanisms of students’ developing thinking. It is obvious that scientific concepts cannot be acquired at once as a ready – mature – phenomenon since they are supposed to pass the way of development. The characteristic feature of the spiral system of the material representation is that, in the course of studying any subject matter, the student tends to constantly enlarge and go deeper into the circle of the knowledge, which is connected with the subject matter. This system does not have any intervals like in the concentric system. Finally, as for the mixed system, it combines all the described structures (Egan 268-269).
Taken into account the mentioned above, it is necessary to admit that the curriculum is a result of a large amount of hard work, which requires much time and effort. Besides, many specialists from various scientific fields are involved in elaborating on the curriculum. The curriculum is accepted to reflect the historic teaching experience and the achievements of pedagogical and psychological sciences. The functions of the curriculum are as follows. First, a student finds out new information, gets new experiences, and acquires new skills. Therefore, they develop their knowledge and abilities. The second function is intentional.
It contains the ideological element, which means that the knowledge and skills that are included in the curriculum are oriented to form the scientific world view and ethicality. The third one is methodological. It deals with structural issues. It appears to organize the teachers’ actions in the course of their preparation for the classes, which means the selection of the materials, kinds of practical works, active methods, and dynamic forms of education. The programs are accepted to contribute to the organization of the scholar labor of students. They are expected to determine the type of activity on the subject study in the educational institution, as well as the process of the acquisition of free information. The specificity of each school subject, which is based on the content, types of knowledge application, types of activities, determines the variability of the curriculum structures (Lake 56-58).
It is essential to note that the objective construction of the curriculum might result in the isolation of the knowledge of one subject from the knowledge of another subject. It is possible to say the same about specific skills and abilities which are formed in the course of a particular subject acquisition. That is why the educational process presupposes systematic guidance to establish inter-subject relations. Such guidance is implemented with the specification of the program, the content of the course books, the introduction of the generalizing subjects, and the teacher’s actions. Inter-subject relations can be divided into two types. The first one is the relations between the knowledge and skills which are specific for each particular subject. The second one is the relations between the knowledge and skills which are common for all the subjects. In the first case, all the required relations are revealed and established in each educational subject. As for the second case, the division between subjects is possible. For instance, some skills in scholarly work, such as the work with a book and summarizing, and universal school actions are formed by all the teachers.
However, different teachers happen to spend a different amount of time on this. What is more, the content inside the inter-subject program is divided into the educational years so as to ensure that the information from one subject, which is necessary for another subject, is provided in advance. The implementation of the inter-subject connections proves to face the following difficulty: the different sections of one subject, which is tightly connected with the corresponding sections of another subject, can be studied at different times. Therefore, there is an implementation of preceding relations, as well as an implementation of subsequent relations. The first ones are accomplished in case the topic from one subject precedes the topic from another subject. In such a situation, it is necessary to apply the material from a different topic. The second ones are implemented when the topic under consideration is studied later than the one with which it is connected. In such a situation, the previously studied material serves as a basis for the new topic from a different subject (Lake 74-77).
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Imagination is acknowledged to be a cognitive process. Its specificity is based on the processing of the previous experience. Imagination is stated to be tightly connected to thinking. Therefore, it is possible to speak about the unity of both of the processes (Rugg 112).
Both thinking and imagination tend to appear in a problematic situation. They are stated to be motivated by the person’s needs. The basis for them is accepted to be provided by the notion of anticipatory reflection. Depending on the situation, the amount of time, the level of knowledge, and their organization, one and the same task can be tackled by means of imagination, as well as thinking. The difference lies in the fact that the reflection of the reality which is implemented in the course of imagination involves vivid representations, whereas the anticipatory reflection in the processes of thinking involves operating of notions that allow perceiving the surroundings in a generalized and mediate way. The choice between thinking and imagination is claimed to be determined by the situation. The creative imagination works in the situation when the level of uncertainty is rather high. Therefore, imagination allows making decisions even in the case of the incompleteness of knowledge (Greene, “Imagination and Learning” 167).
In its activity, imagination proves to the traces of past perceptions, impressions, and images, which means that it uses the traces of memory. The genetic relationship of memory is expressed in the unity of the constituents, which comprise their basis of analytical and synthetically processes. The principal difference between memory and imagination is revealed in the difference in the directions of the operating of the processes. Thus, the major tendency of thinking is the reconstruction of the system of images, which is maximally close to the situation which has taken place in the experience. For the imagination, it is characteristic to strive for a maximally possible transformation of the initial imaginary material. Imagination is included in the perception and affects the creation of the images of the perceived subjects. The major function of the imagination is acknowledged to be the transmission of the optic phenomenon, which presents a disturbance of the eye retina surface into the image of the external thing (Greene, “Releasing the Imagination: Essays” 102-103).
Imagination is tightly connected to the emotional sphere. This connection is stated to be of a double character. On the one hand, this image is able to evoke strong feelings. On the other hand, once evoked, the emotion or feeling can appear to be a reason for the active work of imagination (Eisner 18).
Imagination has the following functions. First, it represents the reality in images. Besides, it creates the possibility of using the images by coping with tasks. Second, imagination regulates emotional states. Third, it affects a person’s cognitive processes and conditions, namely, perception, attention, memory, speech, and emotions. Fourth, imagination allows creating an internal plan of action and fulfilling them inside by manipulating images. Fifth, imagination helps to plan and program the activity, as well as to work out programs and to evaluate their correctness and the process of implementation (Fettes 7).
As for imagination development, the process is acknowledged to take place in childhood. The child develops imagination through creative thinking. This proves to result from curiosity and expressed interests. The starting point for imagination development is expected to be the directed activity, which means involving the children’s fantasies into real practical problems. The development of imagination is entrained by the following factors: the situations of incompleteness, the resolution of multitasking problems, the stimulation of independence, self-supporting earnings, bilingual experience, and positive attention to the child from the part of the adults. The development of imagination is prevented by the following factors: non-conformity, the discouragement of imagination, strict gender stereotypes, separation of the study from the play, unwillingness to change a viewpoint, and authorities (Greene, “Releasing Imagination” 4-5).
Taken into account everything that has been reflected upon above, it is possible to state that the curriculum leaves enough space for students to develop their imagination since they are oriented on solving matters which contain many problems at once or study languages at educational institutions of different levels. As for the positive attitude from the adults, this can be achieved if the teacher is professional from the ethical viewpoint. Modern schools tend to incorporate study and play, which also contribute to the development of imagination. What is more, in present-day society, the role of one person’s authority has been reducing, which is also beneficial when it comes to imagination.
To sum it up, it is necessary to state that this paper has dwelt upon the notions of the curriculum and imagination. It has pointed out the major issues of the curriculum. Besides, it has speculated on the concept of imagination. Finally, the paper has established that present-day curriculums are likely to allow imagination to develop.
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