Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drawing as a Graphic Language

I (Susan) attended a lecture entitled “At The Cinema: Drawing as a Research Tool”. This subject was very interesting to me since the 2009-2010 intention at Beverley Hills Church Preschool was “Why do we draw?”

The presenter explained that a group of teachers wanted to focus on the language of drawing. He said, “Children just draw, they just do. We don’t have to ask them. What can we discover and confirm about children and their drawing?” The presenter then described how these questions influenced the experiences of the children.

In the 4-5 year old class at one school, they have a block of time for drop-off in the morning. So, some children come earlier than others. While they wait for the whole class to be present, they have time to explore the classroom.
One day, a group of 4 children gathered at the drawing table. This was a spontaneous group, not a planned group. The teacher happened to be near enough to the table to document the children’s discussions but was not directly involved at their table. She overheard Alex say, “I went to the cinema the other day.”

At the end of the day, the teachers discussed the work done in the classroom. One teacher had drawings that the children had done. The other teacher had the conversation and the teachers connected the pieces together.

The presenter showed us photos of the drawings. There were up-side-down figures with their feet touching a flat rectangle. Alex was not satisfied with his work and said, “I wanted to do children at the cinema but…it looks like they’re attached to the roof.” This study goes on and many different techniques are used among the 4 children to show the idea of going to the cinema but nobody seems happy with their results.

The teachers decide to consult previous drawings to see if the subject of drawing the cinema had come up before. It had. The teachers see that this is a great opportunity for a class project. The teachers took what they had found and brought it to the whole group. They showed the works of the children in the spontaneous morning group. The whole class observed the drawings and made comments. They also used their bodies to imitate what they saw in the drawings. Then the teachers asked, “Would you like to try to draw children watching a film at the cinema?”

The supplies were carefully selected. The children started trying. They spoke as they drew and their comments were captured by the teachers. They were experimenting with perspective. There was some struggle with placement of the screen in relation to the way the people in the drawings were facing. One child said, “We need to think about it a little bit. It isn’t easy at all to make a drawing of the cinema.”
There was a trip planned to the theater. This was a wonderful opportunity to see the rows of chairs with children in them. This changed some drawings. The placement of heads and feet were considered more carefully. The experience of going to the theater provided another perspective for the children.

The teachers wondered why the children had drawn faces and then scratched through them. More research was done to discover that the scratching over of a face represented the backs of head because from the back of the theater you don’t see the face, only hair.

Hearing about this project made me more deeply regard drawing as a method for me to understand the children’s thoughts and ideas. There are communications within drawings if we only listen.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful example of so much that makes Reggio so remarkable.
    I wonder, what questions did the participants ask? You included ,of course!