Drawing teaches the arithmetic of space, as figuring teaches the arithmetic of numbers.
— T. R Ablett, Esq.
How do you begin to use drawing as a learning tool in a classroom with 35 students?
Here is an approach that may be worth trying in today’s busy classroom setting.
What follows is a format proposed by T.R. Ablett, Esq. as it was explained in the January 1888 issue of the journal Science. The article, The Teaching of Drawing, is about a paper Ablett presented at the College of Preceptors. In this paper, Ablett argues that drawing must become a subject every student learns, regardless of their future vocation. He argues that incorporating drawing across the curriculum has many advantages, namely:
- It helps students think about proportion and scale.
- It makes students better at describing what they see when they combine writing with drawing.
- It develops students’ “graphic memory”.
In his presentation, Ablett describes a way to teach drawing to different grade levels. Here is the approach he proposes:
Class 1: Students should learn how to observe, how to create contour drawings of simple subjects, and how to “ward off color blindness”.
Class 2: Students should learn about simple forms and curves, should learn art-related terms and continue to develop their “graphic memory.”
Class 3: Students should learn how to draw the outlines of common objects.
Class 4: Students should learn how to draw rounded objects.
Class 5: Students should learn how to shade live subjects.
Class 6: Students should learn about other branches of art.
Ablett also argues that public perception about drawing needs to be raised. He says teachers need to do their part to prove that drawing is “one of the bases of education”, equal to other subjects such as arithmetic. He says that if students are going to learn arithmetic, there is no reason they shouldn’t learn drawing at the same time.
To accomplish such a formidable task, Ablett says teachers must learn how to teach drawing in a group setting. He says they can do this by using drawing subjects large enough for all students to see, by ensuring that all students have the same view of a subject, and by demonstrating the principles they are teaching with lots of enthusiasm.
The Teaching of Drawing is available online through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One-day access to this article costs $20. Alternatively, you can search for this issue of Science at your local college library.
The Teaching of Drawing. 1888. Science. 11(259): 30-31. Published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.