The development of creativity: a study of creative adolescents and young adults
SubjectEducation--Curriculum and Instruction
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AbstractThe idea for this dissertation has been incubating in my mind for many years. Since 1994, I have been involved in creative pursuits that have given me enormous joy, delight, and satisfaction. I used to spend every weekend in the Rocky Mountains observing, sketching, and photographing, and after each of these escapades I would return home feeling happy, full of energy, and ready to deal with the challenges of my daily life. A decade later, free from my previous responsibilities as an educator and concentrating only on my artistic profession, I found myself slowly returning to my first love, physics—especially chaos theory and the idea of self-organization. What to do with it? One day, I had an “Aha!” moment: “I’ll apply it to the study of my own artistic experience.” After many years of self-studying a variety of theories of psychological development, I finally found Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration, which connected my emotional experiences as an artist with my thinking as a physicist. The theory of positive disintegration describes patterns and explains internal processes of human development. Dabrowski stresses the importance of “emotional turbulence,” such as nervousness and psychoneurotic symptoms in the process of transition from the lower to the higher levels of mental life. This idea converges with Prigogine’s theory of dissipative structures where far-from-equilibrium conditions are essential for the spontaneous emergence of new structures and new forms of behavior. With these conceptual tools, I felt ready to create something new. To my two dimensions as artist and physicist, I added a third one: educator. And finally, this three dimensional “me” wrote this dissertation. The purpose of my study was to investigate what role creativity may play in young people’s psychological development. Creativity is understood as an observable and identifiable process. The research focuses on whether young people use this process to gain the capacity to differentiate and integrate their own inner experiences in order to achieve internal dynamic order and find direction in their future. The integral model was used to map a variety of theories and their relationships in a form of meaningful organization, and serve as a conceptual tool to enhance our understanding of the process of development and creativity. To gather data for this qualitative research, I chose hermeneutic phenomenology/ontology linked with narrative/biography methods. For the process of the interpretation of the data, I created conceptual models, called pattern models, of the process of creativity for seven participants. The pattern models are based on the concepts of complexity science, Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration, and various emotion theories. Based on the life stories of the participants, it is proposed that creativity in young people could be defined as “self-organizing dissipative structures” that originate spontaneously in a far-from-equilibrium state created and maintained by complex emotions such as delight, curiosity, enthusiasm, love, passion, and resourcefulness. These emotions are the driving forces generating order and complexity not only in the creativity of young people but above all in their psychological development. It appears important to integrate a variety of disciplines in order to achieve a better understanding of the complex process of the emotional development of adolescents.
CitationLaycraft, K. C. (2012). The development of creativity: a study of creative adolescents and young adults (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/28060
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