Creativity Through the Eyes of Social Studies Teachers in Urban Settings
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The purpose of this study was to seek an in-depth understanding of the perspectives of six urban elementary and secondary social studies teachers as creative people. The research focused on the relationship between their personal creative characteristics and creativity in their classrooms. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the teachers and served as the primary means of data collection. The study was guided by two research questions: (1) How do the selected urban teachers define creativity? (2) How do they encourage creativity in their students? The findings in response to the first research question revealed insights into the varying definitions of creativity; however, each participant believed that creativity involved focusing on the student. As a result, the theme that emerged from this question was: Freedom to Focus on the Student. Three major themes that emerged from the second question include (1) Importance of Teacher Attitude with the subthemes: (a) Authenticity; (b) Genuinely Cares about Students; (c) Genuinely Cares about Teaching; and, (d) Genuinely Values Creativity; (2) Environment with the subthemes: (a) Safe; (b) Flexible; and (c) Engaging; and the final major theme (3) Strategies. The main conclusions drawn from this research were that the participants shared the following characteristics: they believed in student potential; they held attitudes of authenticity and genuine care about students, teaching, and creativity; they had the ability to create an environment conducive to fostering creativity; and, they had the willingness and skills needed to select and use classroom strategies that encouraged creativity in their students. Based on these results, recommendations include that there be an emphasis on creativity particularly in urban school districts in the U.S. that includes heightening the awareness and the importance of creativity. Aligned with that recommendation, all stakeholders need to be aware of the limitations to creativity related to external constraints such as curricula, school schedules, and allocation of resources. Teachers should receive training regarding creativity, which includes implementation in college curricula for pre-service teachers and professional development for in-service teachers. Finally, opportunities for collaboration regarding teacher attitudes, the teaching environment, and teaching strategies would benefit teachers and administrators as they work together to foster creativity in classrooms.
Benckenstein, Claire Carson (2016). Creativity Through the Eyes of Social Studies Teachers in Urban Settings. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from