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Exploring 'negative' Creativity In The Early Years


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Hi Everyone,


As a final year student in BA Early Childhood Studies I am currently working on my dissertation. My broad research topic is creativity but as I muddle through the literature I find it more and more that creativity is always assumed to be something good, something that we need to celebrate and encourage. The list of reasons could be endless ranging from the well-being of the individual to the up-keeping of the economy. It is good for the individual it is good for society, hooray for creativity.


And yet some argues that creativity has a dark side, that as well as it can be used for positive ends which may benefit society, it can also be used for ends that are less beneficial to others or to society at large, and may even be harmful, which is often referred to as 'negative' creativity. Put in an everyday example Cropley (2010:4) explains 'At an everyday level it is seen when a person finds creative ways to get others to do the hard work in a factory'. The 'negative' element here is 'the application of creativity to manipulate other people or to profit at other people's expense, without regard to possible negative consequences for the people concerned. Gaining unfair or undeserved advantage, trying to revise a way to steal without being detected, goals of harming, exploiting, hindering, destroying are examples Cropley gives for the negative use of creativity in social life. So goals can be hostile or unethical, focusing on hurting, cheating, or subverting.


Whilst it is unlikely that young children will intentionally devise ways to hurt others for example, it seems that the concept may have relevance to the early years. Children who find new ways so to avoid having to share their dolls, come up with new ways of avoiding tidy up time, making jokes that might 'hurt' their friends are all examples I have seen within classrooms of four year old children.


So my intention is to further explore the concept of 'negative' creativity as it relates to the early years. I do not yet have a clear focus, as in whether I seek practitioner's or parent's perspectives or do observations in a nursery or a home setting, but given the relative 'ignorance' of the concept of 'negative' creativity in both researches and literature I am determined to understand more about it.


If you have any idea on how I could go on from this initial idea, have any comments or suggestions please please do not hesitate to share it with me, I appreciate any help I can get. I find it hard to figure out what exactly I have to do and how I will do it.

Even if you just want to let me know that you are interested in the topic and would be happy to take part in the research (e.g through a short interview or a friendly chat) I would much appreciate your time and contribution.


Thank you very much for all your help and comments in advance, and

I cannot wait to read your responses.


Best wishes,


Miss Pusztai

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That sounds really quite interesting. It's something I think we all see but I have always been inclined to almost laugh it off, she's a little madam, he's a cheeky one, when the kind of actions you describe are witnessed.

I've always seen what you call negative creativity as something that will eventually stand the child in good stead for the future, being able to lead or I suppose bully if it wasnt handled right.

Is it lying given a different name in some cases? I think it was Sir Robert Winston who did some small experiments and said a child who can lie at the age of 3 shows a certain intelligence.

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