NOTES FOR THE CLASS TEACHER

I sometimes refer to an individual as being visually 'literate'. We know the meaning of 'literate' and 'illiterate' regarding reading, comprehension and writing ... which I will refer to as the 'passive' (reading) and 'active' (writing) elements of being literate. The ability to 'read' or understand a drawing is the passive part of visual literacy whereas the ability to actually 'draw' is the active element.

Being 'visually' literate is no less important than being literate in the reading and writing sense. In fact, some may ever agree that 'drawing' should be studied alongside reading and writing. Why? Because before you can write you must learn to draw circles and squares, at least; otherwise how will we make a '3' or '7' ... and 'S' or an 'Z'?

So how does someone become visually literate?

1. Passive By learning to recognize things in three dimensions, also learning to read maps and plans etc. in two dimeisions. Learning about line, texture, shape and pattern. 2. Active By learning to draw just as a writer would learn to compose sentences.

Drawing literacy can best be understood in the absence of language... and its effect can be quite potent. A test might be... 'Using the quickest, simplest drawing and the minimum number of lines you can imagine, draw as economically as you can any of the things on the following list:

A house, caravan, dartboard, pineapple, road, a railway line, a fish a snake, an apple and a pear, a ship, boat, submarine, shark, martini, basketball, helmet, a pair of scissors, sword, spear, banana, cucumber, church, fruit tree, bunch of grapes, traffic lights, ladder, television antenna, light bulb, scooter, mammoth, the road from your house to the nearest store, comb, fork, paperclip, saucepan, leaf, an anchor, shoe, yoyo, and a button etc.

NO AGE LIMITS:

These tests could be given to children as young as five and adults as old as eighty and the results may well determine their 'active visual literacy'. There may somtimes also be little difference in the results. I would test for speed and inventiveness just as a you might judge some prose thus. Bear in mind the teacher need not be Leonardo or Rubens to satisfactorily judge the results!

Let's take this active and passive division little further. In what is 'art' today we have the visually semi-literate - in the 'active' sense; they may however, be quite visually literate in the passive sense. Should they be called 'artists' - and would we be as ready to embrace people who called themselves writers if they attempted to write of their experiences neglecting any structure? I don't think so; and some of my own writing proves just that!

Is any of this important to the human species? The children I tested seemed to think so.... maybe such tests need to be given to some of our national art critics... I made a comment once ... when we talk of educating our children in 'the basics' we should mean the basics of reading, drawing, writing ... and perhaps maths; but then I may be a little biased.

Imagine beginning every art class with 'OK children, open your sketch pads and do two quick sketches; a coconut and a saw. You have three minutes..... then we will be finishing off the drawing we started last week.

Well this is exactly what we shall now be doing wilth our drawing course.

Time

1. Lessons separated into approx 40 min segments.

Homestudy

10 to 20 minutes per lesson - set work proposals suggested at end of each lesson.

Materials

30x45cms or 12"x18" standard cartridge paper (thick, white, plain) sketchpad.2H, HB and 4B pencils, eraser

New General lesson structure;

5 min. short drawing test (3min. for test 2min hold up and look at results)
5 min. revision and homework assessment.
5 min new page, draw margin and add title (bottom rh corner)
20 min demo and child practical drawing
5min summary and suggested homework.