Monday, October 29, 2012

Observational Drawings

Each morning we prepare a table with an object for the children to observe, sketch and consider. We include magnifying glasses to encourage the children to slow their work and notice the details and intricacies of the objects they are observing. 

This work generates conversation as the children wonder about the parts, history, origins and purpose of the object. The object is sometimes brought to class by a child, it might be an object a chosen object related to our work or it might be a found item from our garden or forest. 

Mary and I have discovered through the years that one of the most important parts of the process of observational drawings is to gather as a class and notice the collective work of the class. This non-judgemental feedback seems to promote the possibilities for representing including different perspectives of an object and the interpretation of lines, shading and expression of dimension.

Dan Daglish,  a lead teacher mentoring our faculty in the development of our science curriculum,  offered thoughts regarding the impact observational drawing has  on the habits of scientific thinking. 

"I guess one famous example of “general observation by drawing” was Darwin’s team when they were cruising around the Southern Hemisphere and documenting by drawing everything they saw. I believe these drawings and other observations are what started Darwin asking questions that led him to think about natural selection."  

"The important thing to me is that drawing requires you to really look at the details of the subject and represent them. "

Dan wrote about the advent of the camera and the impact  photography had on observational drawing. 
"The advantage of observational drawing in this case is that it forces the scientist to carefully observe the results of testing."

"For our young scientists, I think that the preferred method at least initially, though far more time consuming and perhaps less accurate, is to have a lot of practice drawing their observations. The purpose of this would be to “train” them to really look at the subject they are observing, rather than “take a snap-shot”. Then, once good observation habits have become ingrained in a student’s thinking, using a camera to record observation hopefully becomes a much more thoughtful and intentional process because the scientist is taking pictures to show what they actually observe rather than observing the picture they took."

1 comment:

  1. As a photography major in college I spent a lot of time studying the idea that a photograph appears to be true or real, but that it has as many opportunities for the artist to take a personal point of view as any other medium. It seems to me that the scientist can record what she actually observed with a drawing just as well as with photography. The same goes for recording observations with words in a paragraph. In the case of recording observations, it is just important that the drawing or other record has enough detail to remind her what she saw.