Academic journal article Trames

The Creativity of Gifted Children in Estonia and Finland from a Musical and Environmental Perspective

Academic journal article Trames

The Creativity of Gifted Children in Estonia and Finland from a Musical and Environmental Perspective

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The research focusing on human intelligence and creativity has recently become increasingly significant in the development of the world, and the study of giftedness is in particular acquiring greater importance. Thus researchers into giftedness worldwide have mainly focused on giftedness in early childhood, because each society is interested in having more gifted personalities among its members.

People have individual differences and we prize and value those differences. Instilling a faith in human individuality, and a sense of innate dignity and uniqueness is seen as an important value of education. By valuing the creative and examining the unusual, we have an opportunity to gain greater knowledge about the world, events and ourselves. We can ask what kind of education and environment helps gifted or more able children to grow in their creativity and inner motivation.

Our study assesses and describes the creativity of gifted children in Estonia and Finland from a musical and environmental perspective.

This research which studies children and the way their creativity is expressed through music, is a part of a co-operative project between the Tallinn Pedagogical University led by Prof. Maie Vikat, and University of Helsinki, Department of Teacher Education led by Inkeri Ruokonen. The project is entitled Gifted Children and the Factors Contributing to Their Development in Estonia and in Finland. Information was collected on gifted (IQ 120-144) 6-8-year old children. The study relies on general giftedness, but a special examination and analysis of the emergence of creativity and musical giftedness, and the part played by development and educational environment, is also carried out. Children's creativity is described through teacher evaluations and a creativity and musicality assessment test.

Creativity is an important construct is children's development and can predict adaptive behaviours for adults in professional, social and personal domains (Maslow, Abraham Harold 1968; Rogers Carl R. 1961, Simonton, Dean, Keith 2000).

John Curtis Gowan (1977) also acknowledges the work of Lewis Madison Terman, Maria Montessori and Leta S. Hollingworth with gifted children and the classroom procedures required to stimulate young children. J. C. Gowan (1977) and Howard Gardner (1983) suggest that the basic concept of intelligence needs to acknowledge that many factors form intellect and that a gifted child is a creative individual. The concept of intelligence should focus on giftedness represented only potentially with the major variable being creativity. The notion of 'giftedness' should therefore be redefined to include the potential of becoming verbally creative whereas 'talent' would mean the potential of becoming creative in other areas, such as in mathematics or in the performing arts.

2. Theoretical background

According to Kari Uusikyla (1999:56) creativity consists of four basic elements. These are a person, a process, a product and an environment. Julian Sefton-Green (2000, 3) sees creativity as an integral part of children's personal development and it facilitates both cognitive skills and emotional growth, thinking, doing and feeling. She speaks about the cultural dimension of creative activities. Arts perform three kinds of function, firstly they develop liberal understanding and empathetic insight into people and society. Secondly, they encourage self-expression and imagination, and can include the study of child and youth culture. Thirdly, creative work involves cultural transmission, for example in the curriculum. Creative work relates to developing an understanding of a society's artistic heritage (Sefton-Green, J. 2000:2-5).

Keith Swanwick (1991, 50-51) places the ultimate value in education on the arts because the arts are playful, filled with imagination and because each act of creativity in any sphere has about it a charming air. …

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