When is creativity?

Creativity happens when there is:
  • intrinsic motivation
  • an open system (child free to revisit subject, skill, media)
  • a teacher open to improvisation, flexibility
  • time allowed for students to enter flow
  • time allowed for students to explore personal desire

(Jaquith, 2011)

Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School
Over the past two months, the children have been independently building small worlds using the materials we have gathered in the school. (Hair curlers pictured) By simply standing on a chair to take a photograph of their constructions, we share an "aha" moment. They learn the language of place.

To nurture creativity in schools we need:

  • improvisational teaching
  • site-oriented pedagogy
  • negotiated curriculum

(Mc Clure, 2011)

The UN convention on the Rights of the Child makes it clear that children have the right to be involved in the planning of their education but few current curricula have achieved this aim.

Barnes (2010) advocates for the following:
  • Adult as co-learner/worker with children.
  • Children as leaders.
  • Children as evaluators.

Rose (2012) found that the Steiner schools in Great Britain were most conducive to nurturing expressive drawing ability. The Steiner students were found to have " depicted more content themes, used formal properties more expressively, and produced higher quality expressive drawings than Montessori and National Curriculum pupils." This may be due to manner in which the arts permeate the Waldorf philosophy:

Children spend much time drawing their own illustrations to stories that teachers narrate to them and in decorating their workbooks (Nicholson, 2000). The classrooms are decorated with a wide range of artwork, created by the pupils themselves, their teacher and artists. It is believed that through the creation of artistic works the child becomes more aware of sensations, feelings, and thoughts (Easton, 1997). Consequently, throughout the whole curriculum the visual arts are considered essential to the development of the child’s attitudes, feelings, and understanding for all subjects (Nicholson, 2000; Woods, Ashley & Woods, 2005). Children have much freedom in choosing the subject matter and the style of their drawings. Some drawings represent specific scenes from the stories told, others are more abstract in nature. In this way children have the opportunity to experiment with both expressive and representational drawing skills. However, there is little formal teaching of drawing until the pupils reach 12-years-old. This is reflective of Steiner’s belief that the purpose is not to necessarily to achieve a product of high artistic merit, but instead to find a path to knowledge and understanding (Rose, 2012)


Waldorf teachers believe that the human being is not just a brain - but a being with heart and limbs - a being of will and feeling, as well as of intellect. To ensure that education does not produce one-sided individuals, crippled in emotional health and volition, these less conscious aspects of our human nature must constantly be exercised, nourished, and guided. Here the arts and practical skills make their essential contribution, educating not only heart and hand but, in very real ways, the brain as well.

Reggio Emilia and Montessori have also been found to nurture creative processes in learning.


Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools have always been defined by the modernity of their theoretical thinking and their deep-rooted commitment to research and experimentation. These services for early childhood transform into everyday reality a 0-6 educational project based on the image of a child equipped with enormous potential who is the subject of rights. For this reason, privileged attention is given to the children, observation and documentation of learning processes, exchanging ideas and discussion. Other distinctive traits include: collegial and relation-based organization of work, the importance accredited to environments and spaces, intense co-participation in school management by families, relationships with culture in the city and the most lively research experiences in Italy and abroad, atelier spaces and atelierista educators for valuing children’s creativity.



The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world. It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.http://www.amshq.org