At 01:59 AM 7/11/97 -0700, Robert Beeching wrote:
>"Critical" DRAWING involving "careful judgement
>or judicious evaluation" neither of which are
>consistently employed in the public school
>system, especially in grades K through 8. Children
>are continually allowed to draw and paint in any
>fashion they wish under the guise of "creativity."
I (and probably others who teach drawing as part of our instruction in the
public schools) appreciate that the original statement has been qualified
somewhat as Robert Beeching explained the use of the terms "critical"
drawing. Indeed, learning "critical" drawing is not usually very high on
the list of priorities in the majority of our contemporary elementary
schools. The situation has probably existed from the earliest days of
education in this country (well beyond the past 40 years). There is a
logical reason for this. If we consider the age at which visual perception
in children begins to change to the degree that "critical" drawing is
possible we can understand why those classes are not taught to younger
children. Prior to the fifth grade, most children have their hands full
trying to refine eye-hand coordination, issues of verbal and written
communication and basic aspects of correct spacial observation. For many
individuals, these skills may not develop substantially until high school or
later. At any rate, prior to age 9 we seldom see a student discard their
childhood drawing as symbol making and become interested in drawing with a
degree of realism. I would suggest that we would invite rebellion and
frustration if we subjected younger children to "critical" drawing before
they have developed the visual and intellectual tools which are required for
I think a majority of students in middle and high school can begin to learn
to see the world with correct spacial relationships. In our district and in
other districts in our area, the skill of seeing and drawing realistically
is taught and valued as part of art education. It is, however, only part of
the art curriculum.
>In fact, many high school teachers draw as
>they did in grade school; good or bad; the point
>is - that by looking at elementary and secondary
>classroom efforts in general, (visually) indicates
>a decided lack of instruction in "critical"
The quality of the learning in public school seems to vary with the
experience and ability of the teachers, but I think your statements are a
bit unfair to those of us who draw well and those of us who devote a
substantial amount of effort teaching those "critical" drawing skills to our
students who are ready for the experience.
In our high school we have traditional courses such as Art I, Art II, Art
III and Art IV. In each course drawing is part of the course content. Of
that content, part of the drawing is what you would consider "critical"
drawing. Drawing is also included as part of our courses in sculpture,
ceramics and electronics in the visual arts, but in these three courses,
drawing is undertaken in support of the primary medium of the course. Our
students also have the option of taking two semesters of drawing. A
substantial part of this course is what you would call "critical" drawing.
Projects involve a variety of wet and dry media and a whole assortment of
specific projects which are designed to teach the students to see, to think
about what they are seeing, and to represent ideas about what they have
seen. Learning to draw is a matter of learning to see. Our high school
drawing course has "critical" seeing at its core.