The concept of creativity in education has arisen all over the world, particularly in the developed countries. There are two important reasons for this interest. In the industrial nations, where technological and manufacturing jobs are being outsourced to other countries, there is a need for a new generation of workers who are creative and innovative. Further on a growing knowledge of the value of creativity in developing a student's capacity to learn in a wide range of educational subjects. The concept of creativity in education is currently being stressed by European and global school assessment programmes, since no country wants its educational system to be rated below average.
In 2002 The USA Secretary of Education claimed that if USA and American youngsters are to succeed in turning into a "service-driven enterprise" instead of a "manufacturing-driven enterprise", they will need an education that develops imaginative, flexible and tough-minded dunking, and states that the arts powerfully nurture the ability to think in this manner (Fiske, 2002). Nevertheless an article in the New York Times by Sam Dillon, in March 2006, reported mat schools all over in USA had reduced arts programmes to emphasize reading, writing and mathematics for students with low test scores in these subjects. At the same time the senior associate for research at Art Education Partnership - AEP (www.aep-arts.org) says that the challenge to education must never be simply to raise test scores, which is a relatively recent and limited goal. The challenge must be to raise citizens who are capable of active participation in the community, and the arts can help in realizing a vision creating this kind of democracy (Stevensen, 2005, p. 5).
In England researchers have put creativity on the agenda as a central element in education (Craft, 2005; Craft, Jeffrey, & Leibling, 2001; Fisher & Williams, 2004; Wilson, 2005). In response to the British NACCCE report in 1999, "All our futures", which said that no education system can be world-class without valuing and integrating creativity in teaching and learning, research projects and research cooperation on the concept of creativity have been initiated (www.creative-partnership.com) in England.
UNESCO is committed to promoting the Arts in Education. It has proclaimed that "Creativity is our hope" and that the schools of the twenty-first century must be able to anticipate the new needs of children and youngsters in relation to adverse effects from changes in the family and in society, by according a special place to the teaching of artistic values and subjects in order to encourage creativity, which is a distinctive attribute of the human species. UNESCO held a world conference on "Arts in Education" in March 2006 to foster creative aesthetic work and creative thinking in education in both developed and developing countries (www.unesco.org).
It would appear that the discourse that creativity is good for the economy, good for the individual, good for society and good for education, is gaining ground and continually evolving. Later, we will examine the emergence of this argument in three countries represented by the authors of this article.
The concept of creativity in education - a short history
The focus on creativity in education is by no means a recent innovation. Research on creativity has, according to Jeffrey and Craft (2001, p. 2), developed in four themes from the 1950's to the present, each with its own distinctive focus. In the 1950's the focus was on the individual, on genius and giftedness, and on the personality of the person who creates. As a result of this trend, the focus in the 1960's concentrated on measurable outcome and tests of creative ability related to cognition. Then in the 1970's the emphasis shifted to connecting creativity with imaginativeness and the need to stimulate creativity. Finally, during the 1980's researchers looked toward environmental conditioning and social theory, to understand the concept of creativity. …