Mapping of Nordic research on Culture and Creativity in School

16 Sep, 2015

The present report is the result of collection, analysis and writing which took place during the period of February 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. With the Network for Children and Culture/the Danish Agency for Culture as the commissioning party, during this period research material concerning culture and creativity in schools in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have been collected. The collected material have been systematised and processed in order to be presented at a Nordic conference on The Cultural Rucksack in Bergen in March, 2013, and subsequently in a web-based publication.

The mapping project was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2012, however, various difficulties in relation to providing data materials have further complicated the process so that the final result is available with some delay. The project has, for the entire period, been housed in Denmark at the Network for Children and Culture/the Danish Agency for Culture with chief consultant Benedicte Helvad as the project manager. Project researcher Lotte Broe, PhD, was involved in carrying out the data collection, analysis and writing of draft reports, and Jakob Meerwald Jensen, BA, has assisted the project by developing bibliometrical methodology for the systematisation of the mapping material.

The main objective of the mapping has been to provide insight into the scope and nature of Nordic research within the delimited area of 'children's engagements in creative and aesthetic processes in school' and thus establish a solid basis for assessing the need for further knowledge development in this area. The results of the mapping work can be summarised in the following main points:

  1. The dominant research theme in all of the Nordic lands can be summarised as the school's perspectives. This means that topics such as learning, didactics, teaching, etc., fill up most of the overall research picture, indicating that classical cultural formation rationalities play a prominent role in the research’s core problematisation of children-culture-school cohesive qualities and challenges.
  2. The prevalence of other research themes is distributed unevenly among the participating countries, with the following main tendencies:
    1. Pedagogical perspectives are clearly present in the research collections of most of the countries, and it is significantly more frequent in the Finnish material than in the other countries' research.
    2. Children's ownership and own engagements in the creative and aesthetic pro-cesses is relatively inadequate – and in some countries not addressed at all – in the Nordic research.
    3. The research which thematises aesthetics is divided fairly evenly in terms of weight on aesthetic learning and aesthetic experience, and it can also be interpreted as a spread in relation to the underlying rationales (self-formation vs. classical formation) in the children's cultural area.
    4. Creativity and innovation/entrepreneurship occurs as a research theme only with significant frequency in the Finnish and Danish research.
  3. The total quantity of research collected is relatively low: 131 publications over a period of 13 years (2000-2012) spread over 6 nationalities.
  4. Various types of research (e.g. basic research, application-oriented research) occurs with varying frequency from country to country within the delimited field.

The report contains 5 chapters, of with chapters 2 and 3 present the study's data material. Chapter 3 presents the data material that falls within the mapping delimitation in schematic form showing keywords and research themes. Furthermore, the end of the chapter includes some material, which despite on various parameters falling outside of the mapping delimitation, is deemed interesting and relevant to the current research and practice in the field. Chap-ter 4 contains the material which is collected according to each country's national strategies and organisations in and of the field together with a contribution from Professor Anne Bamford which puts into perspective the Nordic countries' handling of culture in the school.

Chapter 5 contains the project's conclusions and a short perspective on the ambitions for the project as reflected in the original project application.

It has been exciting and challenging to manage the many constructive contributions and whole-hearted engagements during the study period, not least from members of the Nordic reference group who willingly made their skills and knowledge available for the mapping. Not all wishes and ambitions for the project have been fulfilled, but we have come a long way, and a big thank you goes to all who have participated in the process.

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