Teachers in the UK and elsewhere are now expected to foster creativity in young children (NACCCE, 1999; Ofsted, 2003; DfES, 2003; DfES/DCMS, 2006). Creativity, however, is more often associated with the arts than with mathematics. The aim of the study was to explore and document pre-service (in the UK, pre-service teachers are referred to as ‘trainee’ teachers) primary teachers’ conceptions of creativity in mathematics teaching in the UK. A questionnaire probed their conceptions early in their course, and these were supplemented with data from semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the responses indicated that pre-service teachers’ conceptions were narrow, predominantly associated with the use of resources and technology and bound up with the idea of ‘teaching creatively’ rather than ‘teaching for creativity’. Conceptions became less narrow as pre-service teachers were preparing to enter schools as newly qualified, but they still had difficulty in identifying ways of encouraging and assessing creativity in the classroom. This difficulty suggests that conceptions of creativity need to be addressed and developed directly during pre-service education if teachers are to meet the expectations of government as set out in the above documents
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