About the Project

One of the buzzwords of the so-called soft skills to be trained for the children of the 21st-century is creativity (Martins, 2020b). Creativity is seen as part of the child nature, becoming a matter of potential to be actualized, or not, through education. CREAT_ED seeks to historically understand how an idea of the child as a creative being became an almost unquestionable spot in education. To become an educational goal, creativity had to emerge as a problem and anxiety in education (Martins, 2020a). The making of the creative child is accompanied by the hope of a better future, but also by the fear of the citizen that does not fit within the category.

CREAT_ED starts from the work we have been developing as a critique of the ways creativity is being instrumentalized within the current Portuguese educational field, mirroring international directives. This work (Assis 2017, 2019; Martins 2014, 2020a, 2020b) allows us to perceive that there are some complex lines that make this ‘present’ possible and that need to be historicized (Popkewitz 2013) from the end of the 18th-century to the Post World War II (post-WWII), from a time when imagination and creativity occupied an ambiguous place within the educational discourses, to their commodification and homogenization.

The historicization of the creative child as an ‘event’ is needed in order to not take for granted creativity as an essentialist concept. Following a Foucaultian perspective (Foucault 1972, 1980), the question could be: How is it possible to think about the child as a creative person, and which are the effects produced in the making of the creative child? Historically, the idea of developing the child’s creativity was not always seen as an educational goal and, when it turned into an educational problem, creativity varied, in terms of purposes, practices and the meanings associated with it.

However, even if different notions of who was the child, who the child should become and how the child learned changed throughout history, the context needed to unleash the creative nature of the child, or to tame that potential, has been conceived as the field of arts education. CREAT_ED will examine the flow of ideas and pedagogical practices that circulated among American and European arts educational discourses and scientific texts, about the development of the creative nature of the child as objects of study, intervention and development and how ruptures and continuities were enhanced in different times and spaces.

We are using a strategic "presentist" approach which, according to Fendler (2008), allows for a critical engagement with the present. Creativity is not just a name. It is an actor in the world (Hacking 2006). This invention made possible the Western art education movement and the epistemological construction of the field at an international level. At the same time, it made possible a certain kind of human, that is the creative child. In the making of the creative child several violent and exclusionary practices were at play and still are. The rhetorics of creativity in education consider creativity as an "essence" without history.

Our approach to the present, however, considers creativity as a historical event that needs to be dismantled in its different complexities. CREAT_ED is, then, related to the idea of change, not in terms of providing solutions, recipes or a good view of creativity in education, but with the possibility it opens to understand our limits in relation to creativity. Mainly four lines will be explored throughout the temporal arch situated between the end of the 18th-century and the Post World War II:

  1. The hopes and fears of creativity in education;
  2. The child as a creative being within the child art movement and the fabrication of the "Other";
  3. The spaces and materialities in the making of the creative child;
  4. The conceptualization of the mind as both programmed and creative, from the essentialism of calculation to the cybernetic discourse in the programming of creativity in education.

What we are going to provide is a systematic collection about the invention of the creative child from 1762 to 1973, through an online timeline, which will contain materials (texts and images representatives of this construction). This history will start in Geneve, with the publication of Rousseau’s Emile, and arrives in Portugal with an OECD seminar, still during the regime of dictatorship, about creativity in schools. It will travel through Europe and the United States along this temporal time span. As a history of the present, this historicizing is not neutral.

Our great challenge in CREAT_ED is to articulate this "archive" based on the 4 lines of force that we have presented and thus start to contribute to a future project, of greater scope, which can, from the boldness now explored, begin to build histories of this child, with more local specificities. For now, we focus on the idea of how it became reasonable to think about a child as creative in educational settings.

CREAT_ED is funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).
Project reference: EXPL/CED-EDG/0824/2021

Bibliographic references
· Assis, T. (2017). Docência e investigação em Arte – biopolítica e a operação da criatividade artística e tecnológica na educação: o caso do perfil dos alunos à saída da escolaridade obrigatória. In L. G. Correia, R. Leão, & S. Poças (Eds.), O Tempo dos Professores (pp. 787–793). Porto: CIIE.
· Assis, T. (2019). Programming Creativity: Technology and Global Politics in the National Curriculum. In L. G. Chova, A. L. Martínez, & I. C. Torres (Eds.), INTED19 Proceedings: 13th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference (pp. 5542–5551). Valencia: IATED Academy.
· Fendler, Lynn (2008). The Upside of Presentism, Paedagogica Historica 44, no. 6, pp. 677–78.
· Foucault, M. (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books.
· Foucault, M. (1980). Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. In D. F. Bouchard (Ed.), Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault (pp. 139–164). New York: Cornell University Press.
· Hacking, I. (2006). Kinds of People: Moving Targets. The Tenth British Academy Lecture. British Academy.
· Martins, C. S. (2014). Disrupting the consensus: creativity in European educational discourses as a technology of government. Knowledge Cultures, 2(3), 118–135.
· Martins, C. S. (2020a). Post-World War Two Psychology, Education and the Creative Child: Fabricating Differences. In T. S. Popkewitz, D. Pettersson, & K.-J. Hsiao (Eds.), The International Emergence of Educational Sciences in the Post-World War Two Years Quantification, Visualization, and Making Kinds of People (pp. 91–108). New York: Routledge.
· Martins, C. S. (2020b). The Fabrication of the Chameleonic Citizen of the future through the Rhetoric of Creativity: Governmentality, Competition and Human Capital. In C.-P. Buschkühle, D. Atkinson, & R. Vella (Eds.), Art-Ethics-Education (pp. 26–43). Leiden and Boston: Brill Sense.
· Popkewitz, T. S. (2013). Styles of Reason: Historicism, Historicizing, and the History of Education. In Rethinking The History Of Education. Transnational Perspectives on Its Questions, Methods, and Knowledge (pp. 1–26). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.