Every year we like to raise our voice, along with other organizations all over the world, in support of broader awareness of the rights of children. During economic downturns, ecological disasters and military conflicts, children are among the most vulnerable and suffer greatly.
We take this opportunity to introduce you to a group of university researchers who dedicate their efforts to bringing greater protection to children. Their work deserves much respect. The Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child is based at the University of Ottawa. Their essay competition will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students. They publish a blog in English and in French with inspiring and accessible articles.
Children’s drawings can be a lot of fun and will, more often than not, bring a smile to the adult who encounters them. There is however one thing that experts seem to agree on, and it is that these images are not to be taken lightly, most of all when it comes to sharing with a child. As children reveal themselves candidly, it is everyone’s responsibility to welcome self-expression in a safe and supportive environment.
We share this video presentation recorded in October 2020, and produced by the Discovery Museum (Boston), in which Dr. Ellen Winner, Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, shares her findings on the subject.
TEDx Talks also has a few short conferences on children’s drawings. This lively one, The Power of Children’s Art, by Dr Martha Skogen, designer, researcher, with a Phd is in Visual Communication from NTNU, has also a lot to show and to think about.
It may have taken hundreds of millions of years, but the blob is finally reaching its long overdue fame, at the highest level. A blob has joined the International Space Station crew last month. Its reaction to a micro-gravity environment is under scientific scrutiny. Find out about the educational scope of the experiment in this short cnet.com article by Leslie Katz.
Many of us who love to draw, have of course had more than one encounter with the blob. The fun colorful two-dimensional one, that is. While you keep a curious eye on the ISS experiment with the yellow creature, revisit the many drawing resources about blob art on the web. Teachers will appreciate this Blob-Art Challenge presented by MarieLee Singoorie Trempe, on Pinnguaq. If you are more the hyperrealist type, make sure to see this Stephanie Villiotis’ article “How to draw a realistic blob of paint..” on Make A Mark Studios. We will definitely add some of these instructional video to our playlists. Marvel Comics’ Blob must be so proud!
The connection between children’s drawings and education, art education or developmental psychology may appear to be a given. At the Collection, we like to argue that tighter connections to anthropology, history and ethnography would benefit the advancement of knowledge.
The interest in children’s drawings occasionally emerge from unexpected places. Alina Gabriela Tamas, who teaches in a kindergarten, made a surprising and stimulating connection between children’s drawings and the study of geography. Published in the Romanian Review of Geographical Education (Vol. III no. Feb. 2014), her article presents an analysis of 42 drawings of trees, by 21 pre-school children aged 4 to 7. It is concise and illustrated with all the related reproductions. Who would have thought that we should throw geography in the mix too?
For safety reasons, we are using schools very differently during the pandemic. Air circulation, room capacity and group transitions all had to be reconsidered. Teachers use more electronics than ever, namely for virtual teaching and so do students. The need for breaks from screen time is felt by everyone. Each time the school goes to lockdown and reopens is an opportunity to reconsider whether we prefer to attend school from home mask-free, or at the school masked all day.
Will our school buildings feel increasingly obsolete as the post-pandemic era will set in and we gradually wake up from this collective nightmare? That is a question school trustees, policy makers and unions will certainly be addressing and debating. It is important that parents and their children also take part in this discussion.
Architects as much as anyone else should make their voice heard and encourage new ways to envision future learning spaces that are more adaptable to transitions from regular use to crisis situation. We came across the interesting website on architecture and education, edited by Adam Wood and Emma Dyer. They present over twenty interviews with fellow architects, teachers and other education professional on the subject. They also have a page on school museums around the world, like the Museum of Schools and Children’s Book, in Turin (in Italian). Revisiting what schools were like in the distant past, is one way to reconsider what they should look and feel like in the future.
Thanks to their own perseverance and that of dedicated educators, therapists and policy makers, visually impaired and blind people have been increasingly able to appreciate the visual arts. Not only as spectators but also as creators. It will be a surprise to many that visually impaired and blind people can also draw. They do and it can even be quite interesting for everyone in a classroom to discover some of their techniques and materials. It can be a real eye opener for everyone and foster empathy and inclusion in the community.
A good place to start for educators is the well established Art Beyond Sightorganization which has been bringing “arts and culture to all” for well over 30 years. They published a Handbook for Museums and Educators full of inspiring sample programming descriptions, though it is undated.
Over the past few months, educators around the world have witnessed first hand the impact of the pandemic on their students and families. They know that the adaptation and accessibility of education during COVID-19 will be determinant for the post-pandemic learning years. International organizations such as Brookings are among public education supporters for strong public policies and investments. See their recent article by Emiliana Vegas on the subject and make sure your local policy makers read it too.
It is never repeated too often. Drawing is a tool, is a learning tool and enhances life for everyone. The George Lucas Educational Foundation too says so, in one of their many interesting videos: The powerful effect of drawing on learning.
As social distancing is in fashion this season, those who stay at home have an opportunity to focus on improving their drawing skills. Make it fun with lots of interactions between siblings, and generations. Play games like “draw me something from this random line”, or “draw this on countdown”, or the popular “pictionary” with home made drawings.
The time is also ripe for a discussion about commitment with the help of a funny character. Explanation… Challenge your child to come up with a cartoon character so fun and lovely, that the family will want to adopt it for good. Warn the child that this will be demanding and will require much work. Ask the child to create the character, AND be able to draw it several times exactly the same. Then, explore positions, emotions and colors of the character. Share verbal stories about the character’s personality and challenge your child with a “what if?” idea to start a comic strip with. Take the time to explore online help such as Instructable Craft and do not let the creative team drift away from this adoption process.
Art teachers, undergraduates art students, curious parents, you must explore Craig Roland‘s web site, his writings and presentations. He is by far the flip side of scholars who burry their findings deep into expensive publications and mazes of so-called search aids. His online Master of Arts in Education is a must see. Scholars take notice, follow the lead.