"Ms. Suderman, my first grade teacher was not a specialist in art, but she had drawing skills. She drew an impressive (to me at the time), but trite (from my current perspective) landscape on the board using colored mural chalk. We each copied her picture with our crayons on paper. I thought it was art.
. . . when we got to second grade, none of us could read the beginning of the second grade reading book. Ms. Hett, our second grade teacher, asked us if we had studied reading. We assured her that we had. She then tested us by giving us the first grade book and we recited it word for word. As it turned out, we had not learned to read; we had memorized the book. Ms. Suderman, our first grade teacher, had been a first-year teacher. Apparently, she had known how to teach copy work and rote learning (two very similar modes of thinking), but she did NOT realize that this was NOT what our brains needed in order to make progress in this world and construct new knowledge by being able to figure out words and read new sentences.
I now understand that she also did not know that learning to read our visual world requires abilities beyond what we learn when memorizing a picture by copying it. Since she was a new teacher, I do not blame Ms. Suderman. However, I would blame myself, if I did not share this insight." --Marvin Bartel
The the above story is quoted from the following ) web page.
The page has more drawing stories. The stories respond to other questions about why we use copying in art classes. If you are still "undecided" about allowing copy work, I invite you to read these stories to see if you agree with this message before you vote on the type of learning for your students. --mb