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Promoting creativity in early childhood education in Brunei DarussalamHanapi Mohamad
Abstract for a PhD thesis submitted to The University of Western Australia in March 2006. Dr Mohamad received a WAIER-Fogarty Postgraduate Award in absentia at Forum 2007 [Photo]
The overall aim of this study was to examine Bruneian preschool teachers' conceptions about creativity (including factors related to creativity), their beliefs on how to promote children's creativity in the classroom, how their beliefs may influence their actual practice and whether their practices are consistent with the requirements of the Brunei National Curriculum. It will also try to identify any factors that constrain or influence teachers' practice. The research employed a grounded theory approach involving semi-structured interviews and classroom observations of preschool teachers.
The findings of this study indicate that the teachers primarily conceptualise creativity as something mainly but not exclusively to do with art work. The teachers believe that providing children enough time to engage with art works, giving children freedom, provide enough materials for children, flexibility in teaching, interactions and open-ended questions, group work and discussion and learning through play are the best ways to promote children's creativity, but the research reveals inconsistencies between teachers' beliefs about best way to promote creativity. Teachers' actual practice mainly consists of teacher control, enforcement of obedience, rote learning, teacher directed and teacher chosen activities and heavy emphasis on whole-class teaching. Other mediating constraints on their promotion of creativity included: pressure from Primary 1 teachers, parents and the officials in Ministry of Educations to complete and adhere to the National Curriculum; teachers' own pedagogical limitations; large class size; lack of adult help and the presence of special children in the classroom; lack of resources and pressure from other non-teaching commitments.
The implication of the findings are that further research needs to be conducted into Brunei's preschool teacher training programmes, to identify contradictory messages about the value of creativity and to find a more culturally appropriate way of promoting children's creativity through the curriculum.