Sketching in Haiti and Uganda
Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:07 PM
1. Because the people we visit are very poor and children rarely have paper and pencil to draw, children grow with less spatial sense of objects than children who learn to draw what they see when they are young. The schools are the same: materials to draw are not common and illustration work is rarely required. It has nothing to do with being smart; our young friends in Haiti and Uganda are bright like other children. But the lack of exposure and practice to observing and drawing, which develops a number of skills, has shown itself in blatant terms as we have done lessons in numerous settings. Some of the children have received 4-6 lessons, where we have taught them some basic observing skills and developed examples in front of them. Then the students (or teachers) repeat the examples. But, in many cases they have a hard time, which we see in their sketches.
2. Even with instruction and examples before a group of high school aged children or adults in both locations where we do mission work, most individuals have had difficulty converting what they see to a piece of paper. It shows up in a lack of ability to outline the moon or parts of the moon accurately but also shows up with an inability to mark a few major star locations in a field of view. Their academic requirements in upper grades do not seem to correct the deficiency.
3. The teachers we trained in Uganda have learned fast, but their training and vocation has apparently filled whatever the typical child or young adult has lacked. As a result, their sketches started fairly simple but they improved rapidly.
The long and short of it: observing and drawing skills that we take for granted in small children has longer term effects on spatial understanding of objects--interpreting what is seen with correct context and relationship of objects. When the skills are not developed at a young age, which is not untypical in disadvantaged countries or regions, the lack of ability to communicate or record observations (of any kind that involve an illustration) are hampered later.
One result (and a change) for our ministry efforts is to begin a video series that includes simple but progressively more complicated observing coupled with drawing/sketching.It is aimed at the teachers we train who will in turn teach children. While we have given instruction in person (many times more than once), the ability for a student or teacher to repeat the exercises and the examples is more difficult for them because of the lack of doing it or being familiar with it when they were younger. Even the teachers have needed some reminders and repitition in basic sketch techniques in our successive visits so they do not "lose" what they have learned. Hence, the video approach provides some visual reference and a method of repeating some learning processes. Interestingly enough, every place we have been is able to pull out a battery or generator to run a video machine.
We never thought we would go in this direction, but that is because we had not properly assessed the affects of a lack of drawing skills that are developed from a young age--a skill we take for granted but is many times not developed where poverty keeps children from the very materials we consider common and disposable. So we can continue to provide some basic instruction about observing/sketching and some of the materials to use for that process but the video will add the repetition that is so essential for learning. Once the teachers have it "down", then teaching the children (the younger the better) will follow, and be more effective.
Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:11 PM
Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:38 PM
Have you heard how your Haitian friends are doing? It seems like your video approach could be a good thing. I hope and pray that your friends in Haiti are safe. I hope we each can not only remember them but do what we can for them.
Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:51 PM
Posted 18 January 2010 - 09:34 PM
The effort and love that you and Linda provide to needy children around the world will be felt for many lifetimes. Our prayers are with the people of Haiti during their great trajedy. Unfortunately it will get worse before it gets better but eventually their will be some light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Haiti.
Posted 19 January 2010 - 02:21 PM