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Book Review: Children and Art Teaching

Book Review: Children and Art Teaching 306 Australian Journal of Education Children and Art Teaching Keith Gentle Dover, New Hampshire, USA, 1985. 216 pp. pb. In this book, intended for teachers and parents, the writer presents a dynamic model as opposed to a linear model of teaching five- to thirteen-year-olds. According to the writer the linear model is teacher-initiated, a topic is set, techniques are taught to the whole class, an end result is anti­ cipated, and the finished products from the children are almost identical. In contrast, the dynamic model is child-initiated, emphasis is on exploration ofthe art media (drawing materials, paint, clay, printing materials and others), on discovery of techniques, and on development of skills through manipulation. The aim is to raise children's levels of sensitivity to the media, and to the visual and aesthetic qualities of their own and artists' work. The teacher observes the children, interacts with them and guides them individually as the need arises. The children are encouraged to share their experiences with each other and with the teacher. The result is a diversity of finished products. This approach to teaching art is not entirely new. A similar method, namely a discovery learning approach in painting, is being promoted and is operative in a number of Australian The book could have been a timely contribution to reinforce the introduction of this schools. approach in our schools, but the writing is disappointing and fails to get its message across to the reader. The book is tediously long-winded and repetitious. Frequently ideas are restated verbatim or only slightly altered within the same chapter, and often reappear in later chapters. In almost every chapter the writer digresses from the subject matter with remarks that should have been reserved for Chapters 6 and 7 on teaching. The authors theoretical concepts are unconvincing. A learning model, described in Chapter I, incorporating a notion of two forms of energy (one is said to be active and flowing out of the individual in the task of manipulation, the other is receptive and assimilative, flowing in, absorbing experience and reflecting upon it) seems a vague echo of Piaget's assimilation/accommodation model. Equally unconvincing is a developmental model, described in Chapter 2, based on the idea that there are three biologically triggered 'shocks' occurring in the growth of the human mind which have an influence on children's image­ making. The first shock occurs at birth, the second shock at about age seven when there is a change from being egocentric to self-awareness, and the third shock at about age fourteen when there is a change from self-awareness to self-consciousness. Throughout the book the author assumes that the reader is familiar with the language of art and knows something about children's discoveries of texture, pattern, and symmetry. However these and other visual art terms are never defined, nor described, and no examples are shown. There are no examples of print-making, fabric and thread, and craft work, produced under the dynamic model. Yet these are referred to several times and are listed under planning the cur­ riculum in Chapter 8. Most of the illustrations are of pencil drawings, one is of a clay figure, and only two are of paintings. The two paintings are not exciting examples and do little to inspire confidence in the author's method. Most of the illustrations of work are given without children's ages. In one instance, for example, the reader is left guessing whether three drawings, depicting children's understanding of spatial relationships, are from the same or different age groups. Although the book contains a number of interesting ideas, it lacks good examples of children's work, and it is doubtful that the teachers and parents to whom it is addressed will find the author's presentation of his dynamic model easy to follow. DORA BOOTH Narrabeen http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Australian Journal of Education SAGE

Book Review: Children and Art Teaching

Australian Journal of Education , Volume 30 (3): 1 – Nov 1, 1986

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 1986 Australian Council for Educational Research
ISSN
0004-9441
eISSN
2050-5884
DOI
10.1177/000494418603000311
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

306 Australian Journal of Education Children and Art Teaching Keith Gentle Dover, New Hampshire, USA, 1985. 216 pp. pb. In this book, intended for teachers and parents, the writer presents a dynamic model as opposed to a linear model of teaching five- to thirteen-year-olds. According to the writer the linear model is teacher-initiated, a topic is set, techniques are taught to the whole class, an end result is anti­ cipated, and the finished products from the children are almost identical. In contrast, the dynamic model is child-initiated, emphasis is on exploration ofthe art media (drawing materials, paint, clay, printing materials and others), on discovery of techniques, and on development of skills through manipulation. The aim is to raise children's levels of sensitivity to the media, and to the visual and aesthetic qualities of their own and artists' work. The teacher observes the children, interacts with them and guides them individually as the need arises. The children are encouraged to share their experiences with each other and with the teacher. The result is a diversity of finished products. This approach to teaching art is not entirely new. A similar method, namely a discovery learning approach in painting, is being promoted and is operative in a number of Australian The book could have been a timely contribution to reinforce the introduction of this schools. approach in our schools, but the writing is disappointing and fails to get its message across to the reader. The book is tediously long-winded and repetitious. Frequently ideas are restated verbatim or only slightly altered within the same chapter, and often reappear in later chapters. In almost every chapter the writer digresses from the subject matter with remarks that should have been reserved for Chapters 6 and 7 on teaching. The authors theoretical concepts are unconvincing. A learning model, described in Chapter I, incorporating a notion of two forms of energy (one is said to be active and flowing out of the individual in the task of manipulation, the other is receptive and assimilative, flowing in, absorbing experience and reflecting upon it) seems a vague echo of Piaget's assimilation/accommodation model. Equally unconvincing is a developmental model, described in Chapter 2, based on the idea that there are three biologically triggered 'shocks' occurring in the growth of the human mind which have an influence on children's image­ making. The first shock occurs at birth, the second shock at about age seven when there is a change from being egocentric to self-awareness, and the third shock at about age fourteen when there is a change from self-awareness to self-consciousness. Throughout the book the author assumes that the reader is familiar with the language of art and knows something about children's discoveries of texture, pattern, and symmetry. However these and other visual art terms are never defined, nor described, and no examples are shown. There are no examples of print-making, fabric and thread, and craft work, produced under the dynamic model. Yet these are referred to several times and are listed under planning the cur­ riculum in Chapter 8. Most of the illustrations are of pencil drawings, one is of a clay figure, and only two are of paintings. The two paintings are not exciting examples and do little to inspire confidence in the author's method. Most of the illustrations of work are given without children's ages. In one instance, for example, the reader is left guessing whether three drawings, depicting children's understanding of spatial relationships, are from the same or different age groups. Although the book contains a number of interesting ideas, it lacks good examples of children's work, and it is doubtful that the teachers and parents to whom it is addressed will find the author's presentation of his dynamic model easy to follow. DORA BOOTH Narrabeen

Journal

Australian Journal of EducationSAGE

Published: Nov 1, 1986

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