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Drawing Is Basic (A Pre-K through Grade 6 series of 8 books).

Art is a complementary mode of learning--completing the linear mode--tapping senses, intuition, feelings, and imagination. Drawing is just as important a vehicle of expression as writing and speaking. It is within the power of every person to draw.

Drawing is as personal as handwriting. We all learn to shape the cursive letters the same way. Yet, we evolve a handwriting that is our identification. So, too, our drawing style must be equally personal. Teachers should not teach students what something should look like; rather, they should teach students how to look at something. Each child will see uniquely, according to the level of maturity and the keenness of perception. These drawings of shoes were done by children in the first, third, and fifth grades. Note both the development and the individuality of the drawings.

When we teach perception, we are teaching reading at the same time. Reading begins with following a line of letters and looking carefully. And that is what perceptual drawing develops in the child. When students draw this way--letting their eyes direct their hands--their concentration is beautiful. I encourage taking this draw/write break when students are restless. It calms and centers them. They go back to their other lessons relaxed and ready.

My experience with teachers as well as students has proven to me that it is linear thinking that stifles individuals' drawing. Once empowered to risk "drawing with their eyes"--in other words, really following edges with their eyes and letting the hand record them--everyone can draw.

The subject matter of art is as broad as life itself. Artists have always drawn from mathematics, science, history, poetry, music, and religion--all aspects of life. Art should permeate all the subject matter of the curriculum. In an interdisciplinary learning climate, every subject should be approached both literally and expressively.

Training students' eyes to really see is the first task of teaching. The classroom teacher should be a part of this visual learning. A once-a-week art lesson by the art specialist cannot begin to reach these dimensions. Having the classroom teacher do this daily "drill" in perception, in developing basic drawing skills, will enable the art specialist to move in leaps rather than in slow steps. I see the art teacher as a resource person, planning with the classroom teacher,, initiating lessons connected to the curriculum, working with the classroom teacher to make learning a whole experience.


Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas.

Jean Morman Unsworth is a retired art educator and author living in Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of Drawing Is Basic, a new series of teacher manuals for Pre-K through grade six classroom teachers. See a review of the Dale Seymour Publications' series in this month's Resource Center.
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Author:Unsworth, Jean Morman
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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