The paper presents the results of an online action-research project (Schmidt-Jones, 2020; Rivoltella, 2014) designed to support a group of twenty-nine pre-school teachers of an Istituto Comprensivo aretino in accompanying the development of creative thinking skills in boys and girls attending their educational contexts. The project lasted 35 hours, was divided into seven meetings and ran from November 2020 to May 2021 via Hangouts Meet. In addition, online interaction methods were used in a specially created WhatsApp group. The objectives were; (1) to understand, formalise and innovate the theories-in-use (Schön, 1993; 2006) characterising the teaching practices for educating creativity sedimented in the group of teachers involved; (2) to share a repertoire of tools, techniques, strategies, methods and technological artefacts to be adopted to promote creative thinking skills in pre-school; (3) to co-construct a model of practical creativity which – through project-based, participatory and collaborative learning processes between researchers and teachers – guides the design and conduct of educational and didactic experiments to cultivate creativity in the children with whom the participants deal. Practice-based (Wenger, 1998) and transformative (Mezirow, 2003, 2006) approaches to the study of creative thinking are adopted, which define them both as social and participatory processes and as skills enacted through discursive and collaborative constructions of tasks, solutions and innovations within everyday interactions. These frameworks allow us to move away from the individualistic perspectives to the study of creativity that dominated the first half of the last century (Craft, 2005) and to assume it as a process of cultural participation in activities located and emerging from heterogeneous collectives, composed of humans, artefacts, technologies, organisational rules and anything else non-human, or rather more than human, held together by sociomaterial relations (Gherardi, 2012). The contribution explores the potential and the limits of the online action-research pathway we undertook as facilitators. Activities have been carried out on the analysis of practices, toys design, coding, educational robotics and planning – with particular reference to Resnick’s (2018) creative learning spiral. A range of tools and devices were also used, including self-narrative data collection techniques, action plans and evaluation methodologies.
Francesca Bracci is Associate Professor of Special Education and Pedagogy at the Department of Education, Languages, Interculture, Literature and Psychology at the University of Florence.
Mario Giampaolo is Associate Professor of Special Didactics and Pedagogy at the Department of Education, Human Sciences and Intercultural Communication at the University of Siena.
Caterina Garofano is a PhD student in Learning and Innovation in Social and Work Contexts at the University of Siena.