Drawing - A Tool To Communicate Thoughts And Ideas
Children learn creative thinking skills by working from their imagination, developing and thinking through complex ideas. Drawing or sketching helps the mind to organise and communicate thoughts and visualise ideas. Children often draw from imagination where they create or invent things, or from memory- telling stories from remembered experiences.
The Not So Perfect Drawing
There are many talented artists that can draw perfect portraits, but it’s another skill to be able to quickly visualise thoughts generating a visual brainstorm of ideas. This is exactly how designers work- exploring many concepts, being divergent in thought before focusing in on the selected concept to refine.
The board-game Pictionary encourages something similar, getting players to think and draw quickly on the spot- taking the fear of ‘the perfect drawing’ away instead focusing on a sketched communication process. The new highly addictive and top selling App Draw Something is the digital age version of Pictionary. It isn’t always about how perfect the drawing is. Many of us worry about the quality of our drawing and refrain from using this fundamental skill, but if someone understands what your communicating through your sketch then you’ve succeeded. Confidence grows the more you practice and create conversation around drawing.
Critical Thinking And Story-telling
Young children love to explore paint, crayons, felts, any media combination they explore with excitement. There are no reservations about how accurate their giraffe looks, they know the line-for-the-long-neck does well at communicating that. Pictures tell a thousand words, and that is exactly why drawing is such a good method of story-telling.
Children typically have no inhibitions about their drawing skills, but as they grow older they become more sensitive to being judged and fitting in. Keeping their confidence alive with plenty of opportunities to draw without pressure or criticism helps develop this skill into a natural ability.
At our house we have loose paper, felts, crayons, pens, pencils and simple stapled books of paper all over the house for the kids to freely access. My 6 yr old son is certainly not the best at refined drawing and colouring within lines compared to his classmates, probably the least tidy, but instead of perfecting his style and worrying about the messy scrawl he is very good at drawing elaborate ideas. He creates new inventions and stories which involve alot of critical thinking skills and a great deal of story-telling. It’s fascinating to see him go back and ‘extend’ his thinking and add to a drawing the next day with a new layer of complexity.
Because there is never any pressure to draw, or how to draw, our kids get right into it whenever they feel like it. Fully focused and absorbed into the activity I’m amazed at how their body language shows just how involved they are with their thoughts and drawing. Intense concentration, full body movements spread-eagle across the floor, I can see just how much they enjoy the experience of drawing.
Sometimes kids feel stuck with drawing. I try to refrain from drawing something for them when they need help, because then my drawing is the answer and they loose confidence with their own ability. Instead I spend time with them asking open questions rather than directions to help guide their thoughts.
The kids prefer not to use colouring books simply because they are adding colour to other peoples ideas and that to them is pretty boring stuff. They do enjoy using The Anti-Colouring Book (which I purchased for myself many years ago because I liked the approach) is full of fun open ended questions encouraging children to draw.
Being able to express ideas in a non-verbal way makes thoughts and ideas more compelling. It helps clarify problems and opportunities that discussion may not reveal.
Blu-Tack And Discovering How To Share Ideas
Yesterday I purchased a kids world map and my son watched curiously as I used Blu Tack to hold it in place. This was nothing new to me, but he had discovered Blu Tack. A squishy reposition-able reusable adhesive. He quite obviously wanted to try it out.
Within a couple of hours he had made up a make-shift desk in his room and created dozens of drawings, lots of robot plans, rocket launchers and other vehicles which he had carefully stuck to his bedroom wall with Blu Tack. He would draw an improved version and replace an earlier one, editing and refining his set of ideas. He requested more Blu Tack, and eventually asked me to come down and see what he had created.
His wall was covered and he was proud - he was sharing his ideas, telling me stories about the robots that he developed in his mind as he drew the pictures. His room had become rich with imagination.
Communicating With Design Thinking
Designer’s share their ideas and brainstorm in this manner. Dozens of thoughts, building off other ideas, quick fast sketches- quality of idea not quality of drawing, sharing, presenting, evaluating and refining. There’s no hiding of ideas, no protective attitudes or precious ideas, but an open free-flowing method and communication tool. This is a core element of the design process and innovative thinking.
Why doesn’t this skill stay with us?
How can we support and encourage our children to continue ideating like this as they grow up?
Why should we feel judged and feel self conscious of our ideas?
Shouldn’t this skill be a tool for sharing and communicating ideas for everyone?