I learnt this approach to observational line-and-form drawing from our PGCE art teacher. My inner art-snob initially bristled at the idea of just 'copying' other drawings instead of drawing 'from life' but I'm now a firm convert. Drawing has a central role in the Foundation Phase with the biggest emphasis placed on imaginative drawing. Children are expected to draw themselves, their friends, families, homes and holidays, animals and adventures - all predominantly from their heads.
Many enjoy this, some don't. Most become suspicious after a while, seeing the world in its complexity, they start to doubt their capacity to render it at all. The 'I can't draw that' mantra lands on the lips and sometimes solidifies in the heart, hands and gut for a lifetime. From what I've seen, little emphasis is placed on helping children to develop the observational and rendering skills required to actually 'learn to draw'.
I have learnt to love these black and white line drawings, because they give my students a way to connect SEEING and DRAWING, to connect their eyes' work and their hands' work in an accessible way. Rendering the 3-Dimensional world into 2D is a truly complex skill, rendering 2D to 2D is complex still but it is also much simpler. You don't have to see round corners, you don't have to flatten the world onto your page.
What I really wanted to say in this post is that my heart always soars to see the beautiful linework many children produce in these sessions, but there are also always students for whom this activity is quite upsetting and even traumatic, for whom the 'I can't draw that' mentality has already taken hold. In considering teacher self-esteem this week, this drawing session today made me mindful of my students' self-esteem. If I value drawing-as-learning, which I truly do, how can I help my students draw confidence from drawing - especially for those whose perception of the world is already one in which they feel inadequate?
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A daunted but determined teacher irons out the creases of her brain.