Cullingford, Cedric (2005) Pupils' views of creativity and the curriculum. In: AARE international education research conference, November 2005, University of Western Sydney. (Unpublished)

Pupils are increasingly referred to as a useful source of research whose voices deserve listening to. The potential of not only listening but hearing what they say has not yet been fully realised. Given the right conditions, pupils are open and analytical, revealing and frank, and emerge with a very clear, and alternative, view of their experience of schooling.

Sometimes the views of children are eschewed because they undermine some of the cherished beliefs of researchers and, more to the point, the prevailing system of education. It is all very well to ask them about their views on the minor adjustments that could be made to the school day, to class size and teaching styles, but more attention could be paid to deeper issues, those which lie outside the set curriculum.

One example of a subject which interests children a great deal and on which they can give very useful insights is that of creativity. This, like Imagination, is a concept held dear and often defined by teachers. Creativity clearly stands for all that is good, the more so in what teachers perceive as the prevailing conditions of targets, skills and tests. But what do young people define as 'creative'? Is it rare, or a luxury? Are the conditions of school the best way to bring the concept to the fore? Can all children (or all teachers) be creative?

This research explores pupils' attitudes towards creativity from an early age, from the time when their experience is liable to be more significant than their definitions. The relationship of creativity to the prevailing curriculum is also explored. Issues of how we can glean information of this kind, from a wide sample including different ethnic and socio-economic groups, are also addressed, together with the question of how these views are analysed and made valid and reliable.

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