ELP Guest Seminar with Dr Nicole Leggett, University of Newcastle

Published: 31 March 2023

Dr Nicole Leggett presents 'Making creative thinking of children visible through documentation'

Wednesday 3rd May
Room 432, St Andrew's Building, 11 Eldon Street, Glasgow G3 6NH

Making creative thinking of children visible through documentation

The Reggio Emilia Approach (REA) to early childhood education (ECE) is recognised internationally for its outstanding educational practice and global leadership. Loris Malaguzzi (Edwards et al., 1998) believed that creativity expresses itself through cognitive, affective, and imaginative processes. Italian researchers believe that creativity emerges in preschool age (Pinto et al. 1977; Tallandini & Veresano, 2003) and according to the pedagogists from Reggio Emilia, every act of learning is a creative act, not in terms of product but rather in terms of process. On the other hand, within Australian contexts, it is not evident in the documentation that there is a clear understanding of creativity for children’s learning. Rather, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) refers to curiosity and creativity as a child’s ‘disposition’ (DEEWR, 2009, p.9).

Creative Collaborations: La Sorella (The sister), was a recent project funded by the University of Newcastle involving a team of six researchers (three based in Italy and three in Australia), three early childhood centres in Correggio, Italy, and four early childhood centres from the Hunter/Central Coast region of NSW, Australia. Centres from each context were paired together forming three sets of ‘sister centre’ partnerships. Data presents examples featuring children’s visual representations revealing the importance of pedagogical documentation for understanding the creative thinking processes of children.  Vygotsky’s (1978) socio-cultural cognitive theory and creative imagination theory (Vygotsky, 1987) provides a theoretical framework to explain the thought processes involved as young children seek to make meaning of the world around them.

This pilot project initiated dialogue around creative thinking of children in early childhood between educators to explore the following questions: What are the beliefs and conceptualisations of educators from early childhood centres in Italy and Australia regarding children's creative thinking? and; How are educators documenting creative processes of children? 

This presentation asks early childhood educators to reflect on their own practices and to ask themselves:

  • What are my beliefs/understandings of creative thinking in children?
  • What do I consider important to document with regard to children’ learning?
  • How am I documenting the creative thinking of young children?

Future research: To widen the Early Childhood Sister Centre project to academics and educators globally so that they can connect and share their pedagogical practices together.

About the speaker

Dr Nicole Leggett is Senior Lecturer with the University of Newcastle. Her PhD examined the role of the educator as an intentional teacher within Australian early learning environments and investigated the relationship of this role to children’s developing creativity. In 2017 Nicole co-led a 12-month research project with four early childhood services, entitled Research Connections: Practitioner Research Engagement Network for Early Childhood Educators, (PRENECE). ‘Research Connections’ won the practitioner research award at the EECERA conference in Bologna, Italy, 2017. In 2019-2022 Nicole led a pilot project: ‘Creative Collaborations: La Sorella’ that linked early childhood educators from Italy and Australia to share their conceptions of creativity together.


First published: 31 March 2023

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