Exploring the potential of drawing to enhance observation and rooting us in
the real world.
My work with children is giving new insights in to the various
possibilities in drawing. I have been working with children from 3 years to
In the Sadhana Village School, Pune children are encouraged to draw their
experiences and also their activities. This helps them to observe the world
as well as reflect their experiences. Then they are enabled to articulate
their activities through speech and only after all this we introduce
writing. This is done very carefully as literacy invariably takes us in to
mental realm too soon.
Observation drawing is an important activity to make children see things
around them in detail. It helps to root ourselves to the three
dimensionality of the world and this rooting would help us when we occupy
ourselves with the conceptual world.
What has been happening all this while is that due to the introduction of
literacy and schooling much before children root themselves in the world,
their cognitive process gets rewired. Experiencing the world directly
enables us to be in the three dimensionality of the world and literacy
takes us to the two dimensional, mental, conceptual worlds.
My claim is that drawing has the potential in preventing the damages of
literacy and schooling to some extent. But not through ‘art’ and so called
self-expression. But just as a tool to enhance observation. Drawing also
enables abstraction from three dimension to two dimension. Converting the
three dimensional object in to two dimension is a very important cognitive
act. The abstraction that happens is quite remarkable and this is very
difficult for the educated person to accomplish. It seems that children
before they are caught by the rational framework are able to see without
the need for thought to interpret what they are seeing. They are able to
just observe and draw. The educated goes through three steps. They see,
think and draw and quite often they are not able to draw where as children
are able to draw quite easily.
In fact children could do drawing for some years and then learn to write
may be by the age of 10 or so. off course they would learn to read as
the environment is full of text.
Last September I was with 12/ 13 year olds at a regular school and I could
see that naming was slowly getting prominence than the seeing of the
object. Once naming gets more important the cognitive processes related to
senses die and thinking and reasoning takes over. As they get entrenched in
the linguistic world the world of objects recede from their vision. They
stop being present to the world around. From the realm of timelessness they
also get caught up in the clutches of time. My exposure to the rural tribal
non literate people have made me realize that people who are using senses
to cognize the world are in the realm of timelessness as they are always in
Senses are our cognitive tools that not only connect us to the outer world
but also awaken sensitivity, sense of beauty and intelligence.
Reading and writing are not cognitive tools at all but somehow this not
only gets prominence in our schooling system but also eliminate the true
Literacy is a useful tool no doubt and its role is to help the human being
to retain its integrity and natural being-ness. And also the conceptual
tools are also useful provided they let us stay in the real world.
Please see the link. I have uploaded a ppt called ‘learning to see’.
De-education, De-sign, Re-search
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