I am primarily interested in education. My work focuses on a new educational theory and its implications for a changed curriculum, teaching practices, and the institution of the school. This site is intended to give information about my books, articles, talks, other scribbling, and related professional bits and pieces.
|Schedule of upcoming talks|
|"Press kit,"or whatever. Maybe of interest if you want to ask me to give a talk somewhere.|
|"Have overheads: Will travel"|
||The Imaginative Education Research Group was formed in 2001. It introduces new theories, principles, and practical techniques for making education more effective. Because engaging students' imaginations in learning, and teachers' imaginations in teaching, is crucial to making knowledge in the curriculum vivid and meaningful, we call this new approach Imaginative Education (IE). We show how this can be done routinely in everyday classrooms and at home. Unfortunately so much of the content of the curriculum is routinely taught as though its natural habitat is a textbook rather than the fears, hopes, and passions of real people that students too commonly find it dull and lifeless, and un-engaging. We believe the ideas, materials, and practices on this website can show how to bring the curriculum to life. Click here.|
|Learning in Depth is a simple though radical innovation in curriculum and instruction designed to ensure that all students become experts about something during their school years. Each child is given a particular topic to learn about through her or his whole school career, in addition to the usual curriculum, and builds a personal portfolios on the topic. To the surprise of many, children usually take to the program with great enthusiasm, and within a few months LiD begins to transform their experience as learners. The program usually takes about an hour a week, with the students working outside school time increasingly. Click here.|
|Imaginative Literacy Program describes and gives many examples of a new approach to teaching literacy. What is new about this approach is tied up with the ways it uses feelings and images, metaphors and jokes, rhyme and rhythm, stories and wonder, heroes and the exotic, hopes, fears, and passions, hobbies and collecting, and much else in engaging the imaginations of both teachers and learners with literacy. That is, it isn’t just that we use such tools for teaching and learning literacy, but we do so in a new and systematic way. Literacy is one of the great workhorses of our culture, society, and economy. It can greatly enrich the lives of those who learn to use it well. This approach shows how we might better teach our students to learn to use this great cultural toolkit for their benefit and pleasure. Click here.|
|Whole School Projects are designed to involve the whole school, over a period of three years, studying a specific topic. The rest of the curriculum will continue much as it is, but some time will be given to the project during which the school as a whole builds up its knowledge. The “whole school project” will not be separated from the rest of the curriculum, and many of the year’s objectives in mathematics, science, and so on can be incorporated into the project study. The topic may involve local things—such as plants and animals of the desert if the school is in Alamogordo, New Mexico,or sheep farming if it is in Walworth, New Zealand, or the Columbia River Gorge if it is near Portland, Oregon, or the castle if it is in Ludlow, England, etc. Altenantively more "distant" topics might be chosen--the Solar System, ocean life, birds, etc. Click here.|
|Dividing the School in Two is a subversive project, whose purpose is to make schools more effective educational institutions. But the route proposed here is not like the usual set of prescriptions for educational improvement. Many people have noted that schools have a number of somewhat distinct aims. This website is dedicated to clarifying and elaborating that the socializing aims of schools—that is, preparing students with the skills and knowledge they will need to do well in and for society—and the academic aims of schools—that is, teaching those things that are best for the minds of the students—are not always the same. It is generally assumed that these two aims complement one anther, and that good schools can successful achieve both. This project is dedicated to showing that this assumption is not only false but is very damaging to the practice of education. Click here.|
"What fun! Readers will get a host of practicl ideas to make lessons come alive through the exercise of imagination, the use of metaphors. Read and enjoy."—Nel Noddings, Lee Jacks Professor of Education Emerita, Stanford University)
"Students’ imaginations are often considered as something that might be engaged after the hard work of learning has been done. Countering such beliefs, Egan and Judson show that the imagination—one of the great workhorses of learning—can be used to make all learning and all teaching more effective." (Publisher's blurb)
“In this highly original book, iconic curriculum theorist and change agent Kieran Egan sets out a challenging but coherent alternative to the ways schools usually function. For just a few hours every week, all students undertake a Whole School Project together. Egan’s inspiring yet practical strategy will enable you to engage your students, ignite your colleagues, and deepen learning throughout the school. It’s a game changer for progressives and traditionalists alike.”—Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College.
"On the cutting edge of books adopting an international perspective . . . The multicultural perspective is cvaluable for curriculum scholars and teachers the world over. This book is revolutionary in the best sense of the word."—William E. Doll, Jr., Louisiana State University (Emeritus, U.S.A.).
"This is a fascinating, provocative, utterly visionary and courageously speculative imagining of an educational future that is simultaneously elite and egalitarian, deeply intellectual yet utterly connected to passion and identity. A most audacious proposal from one of education's most audacious thinkers . . . an inspiring challenge to those who aspire to deep understanding for their students.”—Lee S. Shulman, President Emeritus, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
"The Learning in Depth project has brought to our students a completely new relationship to learning that has been surprising in its depth and quality. After seeing Learning in Depth at work in our school community, I know this has been a critical, missing element. It has proven to be everything we imagined (and much more we didn't) when we heard about Kieran Egan's remarkable vision.”—Sheri Dunton, K-3 Teacher, Corbett Charter School
“Learning in Depth outlines a bold and stimulating curricular innovation designed to improve the quality of schooling from kindergarten through high school. .”—Philip W. Jackson, David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus University of Chicago.
"What fun! . . . The book gave me lots of ideas. . . . Quite wonderful." (Nel Noddings, Stanford University).
"Kieran Egan is one of the most original ''big picture'' thinkers in education. I always read what he writes. In his latest book, Egan critiques both traditional and progressive education and puts forth his own provocative ideas on how change might be implemented."—Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Five Minds for the Future and Multiple Intelligences.
* 2011 Outstanding Book Award American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
"Lively and provocative . . . . I am convinced that the imagination-based approach to education that is addressed in this collection could have a crucial and lasting impact on the way we learn."
piece of writing, presenting ideas that are fresh and exciting."
An Imaginative Approach to Teaching.
"As we come to expect from Kieran
Egan, this book is imaginative, engaging, wise, and practical. A terrific
resource for teachers at every level."
With An Imaginative Approach to Teaching, Egan provides educators with new ways to promote creativity in the classroom. This book is an essential resource for all educators. Maren Roedenbeck. Childhood Education, Spring, 2006.
"Kieran Egan’s work on imagination and
learning has addressed our needs as teachers to foster more creative thinking
within our classrooms. Tapping into this creative energy has added a whole
new level of fascination, not to mention fulfillment, to our ‘middle
years’ teaching. We encourage all educators to use the book to put
this unbelievable theory into practice in the near future!”
Getting it Wrong from the Beginning.
"This is an insightful, provocative, and highly readable book. . . . The book is a valuable work that makes a substantial contribution to current debates over educational theory and research. . . . General readers will find the author's argument rich, provocative, and quite likely persuasive. Specialists in education and psychology will find it one that commands their attention and compels serious reflection."Edward A. Purcell, Historian.
"An engagingly-written scholarly treatise. . . . What makes the book relevant to people who are interested in today's educational agenda is that Spencer's theories have been revived and repeated in almost every wave of educational reform. . . . While Getting It Wrong from the Beginning is aimed at education professionals rather than political ones, those who work with education policy could find a bit of ammunition within these pages." Diana West, National Journal
"As we have come to expect from Kieran Egan, this book is full of brilliant insights. He has a great gift for posing fundamental, yet non-obvious, questions in such a way that we find some of our most deeply held assumptions up for grabs." James Wertsch, Washington University. (Book jacket.)
The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding
"Kieran Egan has one of the most original, penetrating, and capacious minds in education today. This book provides the best introduction to his important body of work."
"A carefully argued and readable book. . . . Egan proposes a radical change of approach for the whole process of education. . . . There is much in this book to interest and excite those who discuss, research or deliver education." - - - Ann Fullick, New Scientist.
"Almost anyone involved at any level or in any part of the education system will find this a fascinating book to read."--Dr. Richard Fox, British Journal of Educational Psychology.
"A new theory of education that is (believe it or not) useful. . . . . 'The Educated Mind' is something very new and different."
"This is really a very exciting book . . . Readers who feel jaded by the output of recent educational thinkers will be refreshed by this book."
"Kieran Egan writes with clarity and wit on one of the most crucial issues of our time. The school train, Egan warns us, is lost in a confusion of philosophical dead-end tracks: we need new directions, new signs and signals to help us rethink the journey. In Egan's imaginative portrayal of 'the development of understanding,' he gives us an entirely new map, for immediate use. If we begin by reinventing the teacher as storyteller and recognizing the children as the intuitive poets and dramatists they are, we will be ready to join Egan in his extraordinary vision of sensible schooling available to all."
Children's Minds, Talking Rabbits, and Clockwork Oranges
"Three cheers for this lively collection of essays by one of North America's most respected educators." Philip W. Jackson, University of Chicago. (Book jacket.)
"In an age in which so many people wring their hands about
the inadequacies of schools, concerns that typically tend to result in
constraining programs even f urther, attention to a more generous conception
of mind is to be welcomed. Kieran Egan provides such a conception in his
Teaching as Story Telling
"Egan's book makes the reader look anew at what is too often taken for granted about the ways in which children learn . . . I am very impressed by the practicality of his introduction of the use of the story-forms in curriculum for young children. His model is fascinating, and its various possibilities in a range of fields makes it worth a good look by many kinds of teachers."
Maxine Greene, Teachers' College, Columbia Univeristy.
Imagination in Teaching and Learning
||This book describes "strategies for animating even the most outwardly prosaic of lessons. His prescribed transfusion of imagination into . . .classroom education comes practically packaged and lucidly labelled, with a nice balance between scholarly exposition and constructive suggestion--and lightened by flashes of wit." Alan Klottrup, Journal of Curriculum Studies.|
Building my Zen garden.
Some other books
If you would like to hear a radio interview about educational ideas, click here. It runs for 20 mins. or so.
You can view and print off, and distribute, if you want, a pdf of "A Brief Guide to Learning in Depth" here. (It's quite a big file, with pictures, so it may take a little while.)
Have Overheads: Will Travel.
A cognitive toolkit for adult literacy
AERA 2003 paper: Confusing the analytic with the empirical
EECERA 2001 conference paper:
AERA 2001 papers:
The Arts as "the basics" of education
Conceptions of development in education
Letting our presuppositions think for us
Fantasy and Reality in Children's Stories
The analytic and the arbitrary in educational research
Memory, Imagination, and Learning: connected by the story
Competing voices for the curriculum
Why education is so difficult and contentious
Getting it wrong from the beginning: article 2
Some cognitive tools of literacy (an exploration of some implications of Vygotsky's ideas). Co-authored with Natalia Gajdamaschko. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read this file.)
I give talks around the galaxy, and have promised occasionally to mount on my website the overheads I have used. So I'll add one set here, and another set here [later]. I'm not sure whether I should be flattered by a recent description of one of my talks: "It was like hearing the most humane educational program, as performed by Monty Python!"
If you have to meet me at an airport, or a greyhound station, I look more or less like this, only worse. Mind you, I look like this even if you don't have to meet me.