What's the big draw?

3rd October 2008 at 01:00

Drawing embraces an enormous range of human activity, from small intimate gestures on paper or doodles on a beer mat to the large public wall drawings of the British street artist Banksy.

We live our lives in a constant exchange with what we see around us. It is these appearances - some of them familiar, many of them new and unexpected - that confirm us in our lives. We soon learn what we can kiss or bang our heads against. Babies and very young children seem intuitively to understand that all that is solid melts into air. This is something that most adults appear to have forgotten.

Drawing plays a fundamental role in helping young children to understand the world around them. It helps them to understand where they are and where they are going, even if that means recognising that the "sustained destinations" trumpeted in Building the Curriculum 3 are illusory. Drawing can also be used in therapeutic contexts to help traumatised children come to terms with harm or loss.

Drawing is the cross-curricular activity par excellence. It contributes to literacy development by helping children to organise their ideas for expression in story writing. It is a core activity in mathematical thinking. There are few teachers who would try to explain the vanishing point without recourse to drawing. Graphs and charts are essential forms of communication. Mathematicians have always been fascinated by the visual products of their computations; and artists with the mathematical origins of their work.

Drawing plays a key role in the development of literacy and numeracy, health and well-being and thus serves the central purposes of A Curriculum for Excellence. Above all, drawing is fun. It is exhilarating. It sustains us and entertains us.

These issues will be explored in "Get Drawn into A Curriculum for Excellence" which will take place at the University of the West of Scotland campus in Ayr from October 20-25, and which is part of The Campaign for Drawing initiative.

Anne Pirrie, reader in education

Diarmuid McAuliffe, artist and lecturer in art education, University of the West of Scotland.

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