Creativity in Saudi Arabian preschool settings : teachers' perspectives

Aljashaam, Hanadi

May 2017

Thesis or dissertation

© 2017 Hanadi Aljashaam. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The study aimed to explore the perspectives on creativity among preschool teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Creativity has gained enormous attention in recent years in education. With all the emphasis being placed on creativity in many parts of the world, it has not been largely explored in Saudi Arabia. Childhood education provision in Saudi Arabia has increased in the last thirty years. Changes to the preschool curriculum have been on the governmental agenda and the preschool curriculum has undergone some reform through specially commissioned projects (Tatweer, 2016). However, creativity was not considered by these projects and it is not on any educational plan for development in the KSA.

Qualitative methods were applied, and data were collected through semi-structured interviews and observations, to explore the different perspectives held by a range of female preschool teachers in the KSA. The sample comprised of twenty early childhood practitioners from four different preschool settings, two private and two public schools. The analysis of the narrative data sources was undertaken using the Nvivo software, where all the meaningful components of data from interviews and observations was coded and assembled into themes. The researcher then followed the interview results with observation outcomes to counter and minimise any impact on the participants as well as the data. The information was then integrated in the interpretation of the overall results.

Findings from both the interview and observation qualitative analysis processes indicated many different perceptions of creativity were held by the preschool teachers. Three common perceptions emerged, that were found to describe creativity as being artistic, being intelligent and being gifted and unique. Significantly, creativity was linked with arts and more often with intelligence. Teachers were aware of the importance of their own creativity and its effect on children’s creative thinking. Teachers exposed their own understandings of creative pedagogy as they suggested several methods and pedagogical practices to be used in the classroom to enhance the young children’s creativity. Surprisingly, teachers from private schools believed that the curriculum focusses more on knowledge more than on skills, as the curriculum is more academically driven. On the other hand, the teachers in public schools considered the national curriculum, the Self Learning Curriculum (SLC), as the best in supporting children’s creativity. The majority of teachers, from both public and private sectors, have demonstrated their beliefs about the positive impact classroom structure has on creativity. Most teachers held the view that the classroom in the form of activity corners is the most supportive classroom environment for creativity.

The findings have many implications for preschool educators and for professional development in the country under study as well as some recommendations for future studies. In view of the attention given to preschool education by the official authorities in Saudi Arabia, it is hoped that this research will highlight the importance of creativity, its value and relevance for preschool education, with a view to looking at how best creativity can be achieved in preschool education.

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Opie, Clive, 1953-; Bennett, John Arnall
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