For over two hundred years there has been a relatively strong and constant attention paid to imagination called ‘queen of abilities’ (Górniewicz, 1997, p. 43). Therefore, studies on imagery abilities have longer tradition than studies on divergence thinking (Betts, 1909; Galton, 1880) which gave rise to a greater interest in the subject of creativity (Guliford, 1950). Many works of theoretical, conceptual (ex. Ribot, 1900) and empirical character (ex. Limont, 1996) have been done on creativity understood as ability involved in the creative process. There are, however, few studies that have undertaken systematic analyses of the development of creative imagery abilities in childhood and its environmental determinants (Uszyńska-Jarmoc, 2003). Researchers specialized in creativity have shown their interest in the subject of development of creativity, mainly creative thinking, for almost half a century (Gralewski, Lebuda, Gajda, Jankowska, Wiśniewska, 2016; Kim, 2011; Smith, Carlsson, 1983, 1985, 1990; Torrance, 1968). Nonetheless, it seems desirable to analyze the relationship of imagination with other abilities, such as intelligence and creative thinking. This particular analysis would determine the psychological conditions of creative activity. The key questions in this context concern the trajectory of the development of creative imagination in childhood, family circumstances of that development, and potential correlations of the imagination. Understanding the dynamics of development of creative imagery abilities and other interdependent factors, with particular emphasis on the crises of development of imagination, gender and individual differences in this field, could serve not only basic research but also educational practice aimed at supporting the creative potential of children. Synergy of those advantages was the main impetus of the research described in this book.
The reflections taken up in this work are aimed at showing the trajectory of the development of creative imagery abilities in pre-school and early school age in the context of the development of creativity (Karwowski, 2009b, 2010), as well as family and educational determinants of this process. Four main research questions were put forward in the project. The first one, crucial for the analyzed problem, was the accuracy of changes in creative imagination among preschool and early school children. The answer to this question has enabled us to examine the occurrence of the crisis in the development of creative imagination at the very beginning of school education. Moreover, it was the basis for describing changes in the development of creative imagination between ages 4 and 7. The second research question concerned diversity between the sexes in terms of creative imagination. The analyses carried out aimed at showing whether and what kind of differences in the level of creative imagination are observed in preschool and early school children. Third research question referred to the basic determinants of the development of creative imagination. More specifically, whether and what relationship (strength and direction) exists between the socialization space and socio-economic status of the family, and the level of creative imagination in children at this age. The last question referred to the importance of early educational experiences in the creative development of the imagination.
The study covered 534 pupils from 5 kindergartens (groups of 4- and 5-year-olds) and 5 primary schools (year 0 and 1). The research project also included parents of the children taking part in the study. The first questionnaire about socio-economic status of the family was filled by 49% (N = 265). The second one, including habitus information, was provided only to parents of children learning at school and was filled by 59% of parents surveyed (N = 166). Children’s creative imagination was measured by the Test of Creative Imagery Abilities (Jankowska, Karwowski, 2015). It additionally included measurement of creativity (The Test for Creative Thinking - Drawing Production) and divergent thinking (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Figural). Among the independent variables were: socialization space, socio-economic status of the family, early educational experience, age and gender of the child.
The quantitative analyzes allowed us to formulate the following conclusions:
1. In preschool and early school stage creative imagination develops, although it has a non-linear character. The biggest upward trend occurs in the pre-school stage and before school education starts, in the field of imaginative fluency. At the beginning of school education, the pace and dynamics of creative imagery growth is not as great as in pre-school education. At the same time, among children in early school age, we observe greater variation in the level of creative imagination (imaginative fluency and originality of created images) than in pre-school children.
2. These creative imagery development trajectories coincide with the lines of the development of creativity, especially the originality of thinking.
3. The biggest differences between the sexes in childhood appear in terms of transformation of imageries.
4. Age factor turned out to be the most consistent and one of the strongest predictors in the results of the Test of Creative Imagery Abilities. In the case of image and originality, the SES was important, especially mother’s education. In tranformativeness, habitus constituted additional important factor.
Formulated conclusions are a prerequisite for continuing further in-depth studies, such as longitudinal or sequential. This kind of research approach would enable more precise analysis of the dynamics of development of creative imagery abilities. Presented results might however be the starting point for reflections on the possibilities to support development of creative imagination in pre-school and early school children.