Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: Rivka, FedUpMom, Anonymous, Catherine Johnson, ChemProf, and Nancy Bea Miller

On Art in academics, revisited

Rivka said...
When my first-grader and I do nature study, I always have her try to draw the subject under study. I am impressed with how well it is training her powers of observation, description, and visual memory.

If she's going to draw the strange posture a downy woodpecker takes at our bird feeder, she needs to notice exactly how his feet and wings are placed. That sets her up to discover (from our bird book) information about how his wings differ from the birds we're more used to seeing. Observation, drawing, and research all reinforce each other.
FedUpMom said...
Representational drawing used to be a universal skill that was taught to every educated person. Today, people are under the impression that it's a magical talent that some people have and some don't.

This is a shame for so many reasons. One that I think about a lot is that it leads to a poorly educated audience for art. Learning to draw means learning to look. An audience of people with basic drawing skills is much more appreciative of art than an audience of people with no serious art skills.
Anonymous said...
This is so true. And drawing, which can take a reasonably short amount of time, is ordinarily much better than making models. My kids had to make a model of a cell using jello and fruit. To begin with, many of the parts of the cell do not resemble any known fruit, and the wait time was inordinate.
Catherine Johnson said...
Did I tell you about Phyllis McGuinness's account of suddenly being able to read the printing on illuminated manuscripts BECAUSE she had to copy it by hand?

The library she was working in wouldn't let her make Xeroxes, so she had to painstakingly copy each character. As she copied, she suddenly became able to tell where each one began and ended & to recognize each letter as well (I think that's how the story went).

I think this principle probably works with sentences, reading, and grammar, btw. If a student copies a sentence word-for-word, I **think** he or she is going to start to see the chunks.

That would be an interesting experiment, actually.
ChemProf said...
Catherine, that's basically the approach taken in "Writing with ease." You start, with a first grader, having them copy well written sentences, then move onto dictation, and only then have them writing paragraphs, etc. starting around fourth grade.

This does assume they are also doing narration, telling Mom or Dad what to write about something they've read.
Nancy Bea Miller said...
I completely agree! I still remember all the microscopic things I had to observe through the microscope and then draw and label in High School biology (ah, the lovely mitochondria...!)

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