PLAYING OUTDOORS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT. A CONTEXTUALISED DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS FROM THE IRISH NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAY STUDY

D. O'Connor1, C. Robinson1, M. McCormack2, V. O'Rourke3

1The University of Notre Dame (AUSTRALIA)
2Dublin City University (IRELAND)
3Letterkenny Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Creativity is touted as the most desirable 21st Century skill (Leggett 2017, Runco 2013). Yet, alarming, creativity rates are falling and the most dramatic fall is in the early years age 4-8 (Kim 2011). Creativity, when deconstructed is essentially a combination of skills such as tenacity, confidence, risk-taking, judgement, knowledge acquisition, curiosity, possibility thinking, experimentation, reflective thinking and intrinsic motivation for problem solving (O’Connor, 2013). This list of skills constitutes the foundations of creativity. These foundational skills are laid down within the early years of birth to age eight and broadly progressed by play that supports their development. No play environment is more empowering for these foundations of creativity than the natural outdoor learning environment. How children are engaging with the outdoor environment is therefore a critical question within our quest to comprehend dropping creativity levels in childhood. This paper presents the outdoor play findings from the Irish Neighbourhood play study and contextualises the discussion within the implications of these findings as they relate to creativity development.