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The following lecture notes primarily reflect an overview of chapters 1 & 2 in Mayesky, 2002.

The Concept of Creativity

Children tend to exhibit a natural disposition towards creativity and expression Oftentimes, what seems to be an endless exhibition of behaviors where children are going from one task to another or asking one question after another is really children engaged in internally motivated creativity

The process of bringing something new into being (May, 1975).

The ability to produce something novel, something with the stamp of uniqueness upon it (Torrence, 1970).
The combination of abilities, skills, motivations, and attitudes.

Types of Creativity
Types of Creativity
Capital C creativity. Bringing into existence something genuinely new that receives social validation (enhances culture). Small C creativity. Ideas or products that are new to the person, but only to the person.

The Creative Process

The process of creativity consists of two parts: Discovery & Process
Discovery. Using the imagination, playing with ideas, and exploring Process. Using learned skills, evaluating, and testing

Types of Thinking
Convergent. Thinking that results in a single solution or answer to a question or problem. Divergent. Thinking that opens things up and results in many answers or solutions to a single problem. Creativity Continued

Child Creativity vs. Adult Socialization

The process of socialization restricts creativity in many children As a function of age, expectations regarding creativity changes
For young children, creativity is open to pure discovery. For much older children, creativity is limited to originality.

Process over Product

The exploration and experimentation with materials is more important in the creative sense than the product, or end result. Behavior that is associated with the creative personality. Some of these are
Stubbornness Finding fault with things Appearing haughty and self-satisfied or being discontented Others are Determination, curiosity, intuition, risk taking, sense of humor

Characteristics of Creativity

Identifying Creativity
Are we always effective in creating and identifying creativity?
Albert Einstein. 4 years old before he could speak and 7 before he could read. Beethovens music teacher once said of him, As a composer, he is hopeless. Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had no good ideas. Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school. Thomas Edisons teachers told him that he was too stupid to learn anything. VRW. Last chair in music class.

Creativity needs to be seen as a developmental process. What we look for regarding creativity in young children is quite different with what we look for among older children. Necessity is often seen as the mother of invention, but somewhere lodged in that statement is the talent of creativity.

Structuring Creativity out of Existence

Children today are socialized to be less creative; however, future societal demands may require them to be otherwise. What of creativity?

Oftentimes parents/teachers over structure the environment of children to ensure they dont get in trouble (Rosenfeld & Wise, 2000). What of creativity?
Creativity is fostered in an environment of freedom. Creativity is fostered when there are few evaluative outcomes associated with childrens performance.

According to Paul Torrance, we have to free ourselves to be creative before we can ever really be creative teachers. According to Paul Torrance, the kind of behaviors teachers tend to desire among students are typically counter productive to creativity.
Adults dont always find it pleasing when a child spills content because of early experimentation with the proper use of drinking or eating. Creative children typically have different personality traits. This is often a challenge to parents/teachers.

Characteristics of Creativity
Accepts and is attracted to disorder Adventurous, full of curiosity Strong affection Altruistic Aware of others Always baffled by something Attempts difficult jobs Outwardly bashful Constructive in criticism Deep and conscientious in convictions Determined & energetic Emotionally sensitive

Helping Children Express Creativity

Help children accept change. A child who becomes overly worried or upset in new situations is unlikely to express creative potential. Help children realize that some problems have no easy answers. This may help prevent children from becoming anxious when they cannot find an immediate answer to a question or problem. Help children recognize that many problems have a number of possible answers. (story. Geometry class)

Help children learn to judge and accept their own feelings. Create an environment rewarding of creativity.
Reward children for being creative.

Help children feel joy in their creative productions, and in working through a problem.
Help children appreciate themselves for being different

Help children develop perseverancestick-to-itiveness.

PROMOTING CREATIVITY The talent of creativity may be inherent but the awareness of the talent may not be prevalent. Therefore:
Creativity, the curriculum, and the overall learning environment should complement each other. Creative thinking is contagious- from teacher to child, from child to teacher, and also from child to child and teacher to teacher. Children cannot develop high- level creative thinking skills without the basic knowledge and skills of a particular area.
According to Barron (1988), the absence of knowledge yields the absence of creation. Convergent learning gives us our skill base, divergent learning gives us our essence


As children explore and play with materials in the environment, they are also in a sense shaping the brain. The opportunities to learn actively in an environment provided throughout life and particularly in the early years, helps to create us as unique individual. Challenge and interaction (in the environment) are essential.


Each child learns the same knowledge and skills in a unique way.

One needs to keep in mind that developmental needs serves as a guide to the mind and the sequence in which all concepts are introduced. Consider the following question when modifying curriculum to encourage creative thinking
Is the content/concept developmentally appropriate for young children.

Are the children truly interested in the content. Are they challenged to think divergent and critically. Are there opportunities for children to interact and communicate with other children and adults


Adults are in a unique position to foster creativity. By providing a child with unquestionable acceptance of their uniqueness (approaches), they will feel safe in express their creativity. Guidelines to help transmit positive acceptance to children are as following
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Openly demonstrate to young children that there is value in their curiosity, exploration, and original behavior. Allow the children to go at their own pace when they are doing an activity which excites and interest them. Let children stay with what they are making until they feel it is done. Let children figure out on their own ways of doing things if they prefer to do so. Encourage guessing, especially when the answers make good sense. Keep the atmosphere relaxed.


1. 2. 3. 4. Encourage childrens own pride in the work they have done; but, avoid setting up competitive situations for children. Lead them to become more proficient at recognizing their own strength and weakness. The goal of introspection. Encourage children to monitor their own work and when possible, give children choices about what activities they do and how to do those activities. Make intrinsic (internal) motivation a conscious factor of the discussion with children, Encourage them to become aware of their own special interests and to take their focus off the extrinsic (external rewards) Help them build their self-esteem and help them focus on and appreciate their own unique talents and strength. Encourage active/independent learning. Give ample opportunities for free play with various materials, and allow them to indulge in fantasy play. Show them that you value creativity and are intrinsically motivated adult who enjoy thinking creatively.

5. 6. 7.


Questioning strategies that are intended to help an adult encourage creativity in young children.
1. 1. 1. Making things better with your imagination. Using other senses. Divergent thinking questions


What- would happen-if technique.

In how many different ways.

MOTIVATING SKILLS FOR TEACHERS Several ways to help children become motivated for the creative process.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Physical needs Interest Friends Activities for fun Goals Variety Challenge Reinforcement The childrens feelings

Curriculum Based Programs Which Promote Creativity (Jackman, 2001) Friedrich Froebel.
Developed the first curriculum based program exclusively for young children. Froebel identified key objects/resources to promote learning; consequently, these resources continue to be used today (Developed in Germany).

Maria Montessori
The second to develop a curriculum based program exclusively for young children. Montessoris ideas initially came from working with impoverished children in Italy. Key Points to Model:
Children learn best from child-sized environments that are stimulating and inviting. Children copy their environment rather than construct it. Consequently, by observing and later practicing what they have witnessed, children begin to internalize the properties of their environment.

Head Start
The largest publicly funded educational program for young children Since 1965, Head Start has provided curriculum/classroom based learning to children in low income families.

Head Start has been effective in providing family center education in an effort to improve upon the lives of young children.

Developed in the 1960s under the leadership of David Weikert. Key Points: Children learn best through active experiences with people, materials, events, and ideas. Autonomy is fostered in children as teachers facilitate a daily plan-do-review process.

Reggio Emilia
Founded in the 1970s by Loris Malaguzzi.

Key Points:
Children are capable and competent to construct their knowledge and understanding of the world through explorations, self-expression, and social interaction. A goal of interdependence of teacher, parent, and child The importance of creating an environment that promotes development.

Bank Street
Founded in 1916 by Lucy S. Mitchell Key Points:
This developmental-interaction program works at fostering all the aspects of childrens development, not simply to promote specific learning. Cognitive growth cannot be separated from the growth of personal and social processes. Classrooms are arranged into distinct learning centers. Learning is encouraged by bridging play, choice management, taking risks, and accepting help. The Bank Street approach employs an open education which believes that children are capable of selecting and learning from appropriate activities. The goal is not to teach new concepts but to better employ the skills already obtained.

Additional Sources Integrated in Lecture Notes Jackman, H. (2001). Early Education CurriculumA Childs Connection to the World (2nd ed.). Delmar Thomson Learning: Africa.