Drawing is Learning
At Green Meadow Waldorf School, children draw every single day. In fact, learning to write and read for our students starts with drawing the shapes and forms that combine to create each letter of the alphabet. As they progress through the grades, students learn to draw using different media and techniques, and by middle school they could be considered proficient artists.
When our hands and minds are working together to create a drawing, we can seldom be distracted.
Interestingly, the act of drawing or doodling at school has often been related to distraction, lack of interest, or inattention. However, numerous studies have identified how drawing engages our brain in multi-modal encoding: seeing, hearing, writing, building an image, and drawing. When children observe, listen, and create a mental picture that they then draw, their will forces are engaged, and learning becomes an active endeavor. Multi-modal encoding requires us to process information from multiple perspectives, thus putting our brain to work in different areas simultaneously, building a deeper understanding of the subject or idea at hand. When our hands and minds are working together to create a drawing, we can seldom be distracted.
Scientists have long used observation, sketching and drawing to achieve deeper understanding of phenomena. It is said that Leonardo Da Vinci spent fourteen years observing and sketching horses; we should not be surprised at how accurately he was able to paint them and sculpt them. When we strive for accuracy and precision in our visual representations on paper, we are developing not only keen observational skills, but also learning deep truths about the subject at hand. Size, shape, position, and proportion are often the language of function. Few people understand human anatomy better than painters and sculptors!
Drawing integrates three different types of experience: semantic (the process allowing us to translate a word into a series of visual representations), motor (the way we move our hand as we draw) and visual (as the drawing comes to life on the page). When we draw, our brain creates more connections and our memory is manifold enhanced.
From learning the shapes of letters, to creating increasingly complex geometric forms, picturing for understanding, or sketching a self-portrait, drawing offers our students the opportunity to slow down, to breathe, and to marvel at our world, while learning science, math and language arts. When children draw, they develop a more complex language to express what they see, they develop a deep understanding of space and time, and they experience the freedom to create. Furthermore, by slowing down and taking time to draw, children find stillness and calm, reducing anxiety and becoming comfortable in their own bodies.
Green Meadow’s commitment to all forms of art creates a space for children to grow and imagine.
In these times of busyness, disconnection through screens, and ever fewer opportunities to develop our creativity, Green Meadow’s commitment to all forms of art creates a space for children to grow and imagine. The possibilities are endless, but perhaps the most important gift is for our children to be able to imagine a better future. And in this day and age, there is nothing more important than that.