Image-makers and knowledge-builders

Published by Lori Pickert on October 28, 2008 at 09:20 PM

“The key to developing confidence in working with children begins with watching. Take time to watch. Observe children’s absorbed attention, their total concentration, their sheer delight as they play with colours and shapes. Watch their gestures and facial expressions. Listen to their words. Appreciate what they do.

Most importantly, give children time — time to look and ponder, time to explore materials, time to repeat things over and over again. And offer materials and tools of the best quality you can afford, materials that let children shape their own ideas and enable them to realise their potential as image-makers and knowedge-builders.”

— Ursula Kolbe, Rapunzel's Supermarket: All about Young Children and Their Art

7 comments

Comment by Molly on October 28, 2008 at 11:19 PM

That makes so much sense to me. Imagine if someone continually interrupted my [our] own creative ponderings and play with materials and methods. I would be livid! When I draw, paint, work with paper or textiles ... half the fun is in the consideration of ideas.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 29, 2008 at 01:59 AM

i know -- and chlidren really have such long attention spans. they like to read the same books over and over, they like to draw the same thing over and over .. and there's always the temptation to make them hurry along. you know -- taking a two-year-old on a walk! they want to stop and look at everything. it drives me crazy when people talk about children having short attention spans -- when children are doing something *they* like, they tend to have enormously long attention spans.

transitions are so brutal for small children -- just as you're settling in, they want you to get up and do something else!

that consideration of ideas .. where we would make a sketch or a plan and think things over first .. consider different fabrics, etc. .. children tend to want to make something all the way through .. but then make it *again*. and *again*. and time allows them to do just that, if we don't say "don't you want to make something different?"

Comment by skye on October 29, 2008 at 08:47 AM

I absolutely love that book! I have had it out from the library so many times -I need my own copy.
My question would be what if they think they are not good at drawing or not feeling inspired and tend to roam at no particular thing ?

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 29, 2008 at 01:51 PM

what age, skye?

Comment by skye on October 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM

I have a boy about to turn 9, 7yo girl, 5yo boy and 18m old girl. The 5 yr old thinks he is no good at drawing and I wonder if its because he is comparing himself to the older two. I,ve tried to encourage him, coax him at times and wonder how to instill that its so ok to do things differently but the eldest can be a bit brutal with his words and tends to compare alot. My eldest is probably the one I see roaming a bit. He is an avid reader and is very interested in animals particularly but when I suggest an idea to take it further he is not really interested. I guess I'd like to see more "absorbed attention".

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 30, 2008 at 03:38 PM

family dynamics and relationships are important to consider when dealing with this kind of situation (the 5yo). in general, i would remind him that his sister and brother are 2 and 4 years older than he is and that drawing, like everything else, is something that gets better with practice. the more he draws, the better he will draw, and when he is 7 and 9, he may draw better than his sister and brother do now.

my older son would often encourage his three-years-younger brother, saying “you draw *much* better than i did when i was your age.” you might point out that drawing is just like reading — you get better at it all the time, and younger children may not read the same books as their older siblings, but they will in time.

i would suggest sitting down and sketching with just him, if such a thing is possible. ;^) it’s perfectly fine for you to draw better than he does (if you do! ;^) and for his brother or sister to draw better, but it may give him a chance to work in a more relaxed way without his brother’s harsh assessment.

you can also model for him. if he says “your drawing is much better than mine”, you can say “thank you, but i think your drawing is very good. remember, you’re only five; imagine how well you will be able to draw when you are my age, if you draw all the time. and i don’t like the way my drawing of the cat’s tail turned out, but i think the ears look just the way i wanted them to. what do you like about your drawing?” etc.

observational drawing is a great tool and will help improve a child’s overall drawing, but you should also make sure he has plenty of paper and materials available all the time for free drawing.

re: encouraging the 9yo to work in a more extended fashion, maybe today’s post on provoking investigation will give you some ideas!

feel free to e-mail me skye, or start a thread in the forum, if you would like to talk more about these ideas; i think they are of general interest!

Comment by skye on October 30, 2008 at 11:19 PM

Thankyou Lori- They are v helpful suggestions.

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