Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Creativity in children's early years is vital for the country's future economic growth

Nursery World article summary by Catherine Gaunt 11 November  and various other articles published in the press recently, all express concern over early year’s practices returning to outdated beliefs about learning.
A key report published argues why creativity in children's early years is vital for the country's future economic growth
‘We must not be tempted to narrow the curriculum and return to the outdated belief that concentrating only on literacy, numeracy and behaviour will strengthen early years practice.’ Bernadette Duffy
Although the coalition government express a commitment to the EYFS it is not clear that they have grasped the importance of the double role of creativity in the early years. The emphasis is very much a commitment to a “focus on basics”. Concern is not over this emphasis, but over how these basics will be delivered. This Rose primary curriculum due for implementation in 2011 was to ensure implementation of the primary curriculum with the holistic EYFS. This was cancelled by June 2010. See an earlier blog entry of mine to read my thoughts about introducing formal school too early
As I read the essays and articles and reflect on my own thoughts about this too, I enjoy what I read about creativity and at the same time I too feel a deep concern, because the government is not supporting the Rose primary curriculum and also over the implications of the spending review for the early years sector and how this might effect training and support for settings.
I have no doubt whatsoever that creative expression in education and particularly during the early years is essential to the country’s social and economic growth.
Because it is essential to our health, mental, social, intellectual and emotional wellbeing as individuals and together as a nation.
Creativity is necessary for innovation, collaboration, harmony and for peace.
Creativity is the process of chaos through to a new order whatever that new order might be.
Creativity is the source of life. If this natural force is suppressed it can show itself in various ways which may be destructive instead constructive.
Creativity is often seen only as an expression of art and of course it is this and it so much more too.
I agree with Michel Rosen in his forward to the report when he says:
“It is essential for the advance of humankind. We are beset with massive problems concerning at the very least questions of climate, poverty, disease and war. We will never escape from this cycle through top-down instruction. Of course, it is possible to be creative about destruction – the twentieth century was particularly clever in this respect. In other words, creativity for the benefit of the human race has to be inclusive and cooperative. October 2010
I recognise that I am deeply committed to fostering creativity in my work with early year’s practitioners and through my personal development practices: coaching, mentoring, mediating, facilitating, training in early years, and through my involvement in collaborative leadership and management of projects, organisations and services.
This means understanding creativity and how when we nurture, support, facilitate and develop this through the early years we lay foundations for collaboration, innovation and for peace.
I consider creativity as a force that is motivated by our need to contribute, explore, invent, build, destroy, play, communicate, and express ourselves and much more.
Creativity is dynamic and unfolding. Young children expand their perception when they are able to move from viewing things literally, to using their imaginations, to make up stories, role play and pretend: then a comb becomes a car; we become a prince, a princess, our mum, dad, a police officer, a fireperson. A bowlful of stones becomes food; a row of bricks become a bridge, a combination of sounds becomes a tune, moving to music becomes a dance. A conflict becomes an opportunity for evolution.
In early years when we enable the expression of children’s natural creativity, they build and dig, paint, sing and make up rhymes, experiment and discover, apply first hand experiences and build on these in ways to create something brand new and unique to them. This is how connections are made and their very own map of the world is created, through curiosity, inquisitiveness, risk and challenge, on their own and with others, for the good or destruction of ourselves and others.
Some of the questions the report explores are:
• Can training really make early years professional more creative?
• Does the curriculum foster creativity?
Michel Rosen says to himself:
“Are these people investigating, discovering, inventing and cooperating?
They don’t have to be doing all four all the time, but is this event, this process, this ‘workshop’ involving at least one of these?
In an ideal moment, it’ll be all four.
What can I do to increase the amount of whichever one of the four is not happening here?
In my experience, things start to happen when all four take place in a group of people.”
I like these questions, they help me to reflect on my own trainings and consider how I foster these things too.
I am very grateful to David Weikart High Scope Head Start pioneer for his contribution to early years and for my training with them in the late 1980’s . High Scope clearly places creativity at the very heart of its practice.

Every aspect of the curriculum is considered from the premise that children learn actively through engagement with others, with materials and through their own intrinsic motivation. They learn in their own way through their personal expression and with the support of the adults around them. Adults who understand how children learn!
 I am also grateful to Dr Marshall Rosenberg for his work in life enriching education, nonviolent communication and for the work of Gerard Endenburg on dynamic governance/Sociocracy. These approaches offer the sector ways of communicating and decision making processes to enable collaborative working and I am grateful to many others too, including the work of Rolando Toro in offering opportunities for free expression of our creativity through music and movement.
More on these later………
Key messages in this entry are that CREATIVITY IS IMPORTANT both as an area of the EYFS and central to learning culture of early years settings.
Into Adulthood: A Study of the Effects of Head Start  Educating Young Children: Active Learning Practices for Preschool and Child Care ProgramsWe the People: Consenting to a Deeper DemocracyNonviolent Communication: A Language of LifeLife-Enriching Education: Nonviolent Communication Helps Schools Improve Performance, Reduce Conflict, and Enhance Relationships

1 comment:

  1. Good blog Tracy -
    I agree, creativity is imperative for a contented, innovative and motivated future . If the mind is limitless in its ability why narrow the focus at an early age and set the foundation for mechanical, repetitive approaches. There are plenty of opportunities to include literacy and numeracy inside exciting creative projects where they are applied as necessary to develop the project further.

    My experience has shown that if the learning is formal and narrow too soon (the bias toward achievement in formal areas limits what Early Years settings and primary schools are able to do within the curriculum), then many children are switched off to education by the time they get to secondary school. This is even more apparent in children who have a bias towards creativity, individual thinking and innovation. My own daughter made a 3D board game at 6 years old, was top at maths and read 4 years ahead of her age, but left school with no qualifications. It is no surprise that many successful entrepreneurs left school early or without formal qualifications because real intelligence is not about learning facts and figures, but about being able to apply knowledge, innovate and problem-solve creatively.

    Children love to join in imaginative play it gives them an outlet for making sense of the world around them and allows social awareness of the others' perspective arise. The creative possibilities are limitless and therefore creative activities feel expansive and allow children to follow their own inner, unique directive - allowing each to show their individual talents, perspectives and direction of their work.

    For myself, using musikgarten, which includes dance, song, action rhymes, rhythm, simple oral stories, mime and varied music is a true pleasure. I see the joy that emerges as the children participate and they learn the language of songs effortlessly. In fact some children who show little communication at the ages of 3 or 4, participate fully with songs and rhymes, developing oral language effortlessly and joyfully.

    With older children I see Art and crafts have therapeutic effects- an unwind from the pressure of performance and testing. All in all creativity of all types is essential for well-being.