Angels, tooth fairies and ghosts: thinking creatively in an early years classroom

Faulkner, Dorothy (2011). Angels, tooth fairies and ghosts: thinking creatively in an early years classroom. In: Faulkner, Dorothy and Coates, Elizabeth eds. Exploring Children's Creative Narratives. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 39–62.



This chapter offers an evaluation and interpretation of the creative thinking and collaboration that took place in a class of five year olds in an English primary school during the academic year 2004–05. This school was committed to developing itself as a creative learning community by participating in a creativity-training programme, Synectics, more usually employed in an adult business context. This school wanted to develop its capacity for creative teaching and learning. This intent was in tune with national and international developments in education where strenuous efforts were being made to extend the reach of creative education which had for a long time been more or less exclusively associated with the arts. The chapter offers an outline of these developments to set the research in context. The research described is a case study and second phase of an evaluation of the project EXCITE! (Excellence, Creativity and Innovation in Teaching and Education) and was carried out by researchers from the Open University. Previous research suggests that when children first start school, they are already competent creative thinkers and storytellers and that both creative and narrative modes of thinking involve abductive rather than deductive inferential reasoning. It is argued that although children may need training in paradigmatic (deductive) modes of thought, they do not necessarily need further training in narrative modes of thought. The examples of young children’s thinking discussed in chapter support this argument. The Synectics creativity-training programme does not claim to ‘teach’ creative thinking per se. The evidence presented suggests that when teachers use Synectics tools and techniques to inform practice, these allow them to create a positive, emotional climate that allows young children to use analogy and metaphor to construct creative explanations and narratives through collaborative discussion.

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