Communicating Possibilities: A Study of English Nursery Children's Emergent Creativity, Exploring the Three to Four-year-old Child as an Artistic Communicator and Possibility Thinker
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To allow time for publication in peer reviewed journals and book chapters
This research builds on previous studies that have documented evidence of Professor Anna Craft’s concept of ‘Possibility Thinking’ (PT) as at the heart of creativity which involves children transitioning from ‘what is this?’ to ‘what can I or we do with this?’ as well as imagining ‘as if’ they were in a different role. My thesis titled “Communicating Possibilities” examines English nursery children's emergent creativity, exploring the three to four-year-old child as an artistic communicator and possibility thinker through a case study approach situated in one primary school in South West England. Three main research questions were posed concerning the ‘what, how, and why’ of creativity when children communicated through art; as well as exploring the nurturing role of others, and identity manifest through voice and learning experience. This doctoral study is essentially interpretivist in nature seeking to explain how people make sense of their social worlds, and is an exploration framed by culturally negotiated, shared meanings, and complex social relations. Data was collected over one school year, in three nine-week research phases by the following ethnographic methods: naturalistic observations; researcher diary; children’s creative journals; and practitioner interviews. These methods were repeated for each phase. Inductive and deductive data analysis was conducted. Undertaken over time as the project unfolded, a grounded theory approach was applied in total to 27 episodes. Micro event analysis of creative behaviours in action and narrative discourses of two kinds: peer-to-peer, and child-to-adult (teacher, early years practitioner, and my researcher dialogue) revealed four broad critical themes: Observing and documenting children’s creativity; What children can do together- recognising differences; Pedagogy of possibilities- developing a role; and The value of artistic communication in the nursery classroom. Each is discussed in terms of the key implications these themes hold for theory, policy, and early years practice.