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Lesson Plans


Re: Coloring Books

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Marge Dickinson (dickinsonm)
Sat, 27 Apr 1996 09:11:56 -0500


Re: coloring books
I too have spent years crusading against coloring books. At the end of
each school year when I taught elementary, I sent home a letter to parents
suggesting art activities for the summer and always
included a anti-coloring book section.

I always felt that I was stealing something from the child when I allowed
them to copy, or to fill in adult drawings (which is what coloring books
are). There seemed to be a loss of confidence in their own ability when
they used this sort of activity. The toughest classes to motivate and
inspire were those of a first grade teacher whose primary teaching activity
appeared to be those seatwork handouts and whose cupboard were filled with
templates for every object in the world. Poor kids. They were terrified
to make a mistake. When I had students who would finished before the
others, I used pages from the Anti-coloring Books for fill in activities -
but I had to be careful because they were extremely popular and some
children rushed to finished just to use them. The favorite ones were the
"best friend" certificate and the awards you could give to a teacher,
another student or the school cooks. Elementary kids are so sweet.

At the high school, it was absolutely positively without a doubt important
that no copying was done. I promised students I would teach them to draw -
and drew heavily on Betty Edwards technique for contour drawing as
introductory lessons. They loved it. I would NOT allow any magazine
copying at all unless it was for referencing animals or bugs. We drew
everything we could from life. It gave me great pain to go to a high
school art show and see a drawing of Elvis Presley. My students would joke
that it was great that the King came and posed for that art class. They
knew that it was cheating. I told them the story that parallels what that
kind of copying is:

Imagine that you were in English class and the teacher made this
assignment: Please write a story tonight for your homework. You are to
take a Reader's Digest and copy a story from it. It must be in your own
handwriting and done neatly and carefully. No changes or corrections may
be made. Turn it in tomorrow.

Compare that to the kind of visual plagiarism which some teachers allow:
take another artists work (photographer or designer) and copy it in your
own 'handwriting' and turn it in as your own.

How is this different from plagiarism? I don't think it is. Confidence in
your own ability to draw is weakened when you are allowed to copy - that is
what I preached. I wanted to send my student out into the world ready to
tackle anything whether they continued in art or not. As a result, I had
students come back from college classes and say that they were way ahead of
everyone in their beginning design or drawing classes - and they felt great
about it. I also taught the exploration of ideas so they could develop
original drawings any time.

I know this sounds like a diatribe and I apologize if I have stepped on
toes. Does anyone agree with me? I will step down from my soapbox and
accept comments.

Marge Dickinson
Galva IL

Marge Dickinson
Galva, IL
e-mail: dickinsonm
phone: 309-932-2880
fax: 309-932-8207