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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conceptions of giftedness and creativity from Africa : the Shona culture's perspective Ngara, Constantine


Whereas conceptions of giftedness, assessment tools, and models espoused in contemporary psychology are all grounded in the West, there are different ways to look at giftedness. This study investigated Shona culture of Zimbabwe’s conceptions of giftedness with a view to generate theoretical ideas that inform gifted programming from an African cultural perspective. The study was conducted at two levels using different research designs: a) a cultural level seeking to highlight Shona culture’s implicit theories of giftedness and b) an individual level seeking to understand Shona artists’ talent attributions. At the first level, Shona culture’s implicit theories of giftedness were explored by a questionnaire completed by 16 Zimbabwean academics of Shona cultural background. Data were analyzed in thematic frames, using frequency tables to gauge a consensus of responses among the respondents. The second study adopted a grounded theory study approach to generate a mid-range theory of Shona stone sculptors’ talent attributions focusing on how they propel a field of art. Participants in the study were 20 top talented Shona stone sculptors (icons of creative works in Zimbabwe). The Shona model of giftedness that emerged is spiritual, participatory and community focused. The grounded theory generated in the study suggested a dynamic interactive process model (DIPM) which explains how artists’ talent attributions help to propel a field of art. The DIPM posits that creativity emerges from dynamic and interactive processes activated or reactivated (by some trigger stimulus) in interactions evoking one’s unique experiences, cultural consciousness and domain specific consciousness and realized through practice and experience. In the DIPM model, creative vision and inspiration in art evolve from the interplay of six major factors which are not necessarily discrete: a) inherent/inborn potential, b) cultural consciousness, c) individual’s unique experiences, d) activation/reactivation stimulus, e) domain specific consciousness, and f) practice and experience. The DIPM model is based on beliefs systems as the magic carpets by which the artists ascend into the unknown to unleash their creativity. The study suggests that belief systems could become an interesting focus for future studies to understand creativity. The study makes a case for diversity sensitivity in gifted programming.

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