SEAT EXERCISE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-EXPRESSION
IN FORM I, Junior Grade, the new pupils may be allowed certain periods in the seats during the day in which to make pictures telling stories. These should not be criticised, but each pupil should be able to tell the teacher what his pictures mean, and he should be given credit for them unless they consist of aimless marks.
At this point a great deal of help may be given the pupil, without destroying his individuality. A few strokes may make his indefinite figures take shape and, as he is not critical, no teacher fearing his own inability need hesitate to help.
Pictures on cards or around the room or sketches on the black-board will give the pupil terms with which to express himself ; but to set him copying a picture limits, rather than develops, his power of expression.
Let us suppose that the story he is telling calls for trees. He has not yet thought of a tree, excepting as a pole with cross-beams upon which apples or other fruits hang. The relation of each part to the whole has not troubled him; therefore his drawing bears little resemblance to a tree. He will, however, recognize the photograph or picture of a tree and will admit that it is more like a tree than his drawing is; his struggle to express things as they appear has begun.
SUITABLE SUBJECTS FOR ILLUSTRATIVE DRAWING
The illustrative, or imaginative, drawing in class in Form I may be begun with short sentences expressing action, such as :
Mary pushed the chair across the floor.
Sam ran across the room.
The cat jumped to catch the mouse.
Afterwards short stories within the pupil’s experience may be given, as:
The baby was so ill that mother called to Robbie to run quickly for the doctor.
Advantage also should be taken of the things in which the pupils are interested and of events that happen in the neighbourhood.
Other suitable subjects for illustration are nursery rhymes; holiday happenings; special days, as, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving Day, Empire Day, Circus Day; any childish activity, as sweeping, dusting, raking, weeding; games and sports of all kinds.
Illustrative Drawing should also be correlated with reading, number work, and other school lessons, both in the class periods and for seat work.
METHOD OF BEGINNING THE LESSON
The teacher may open the lesson by making on the black-board a rapid sketch representing some action quite different from the one he intends to have the pupils draw; for example, a boy climbing a ladder. Then he may put the question to the class : ” What is Johnny doing ?” Every pupil in the class is ready to answer immediately. The picture on the board is then removed, and the teacher proceeds as suggested in the type lesson. If he sketches readily, this method of beginning acts as an inspiration to the pupils. They may be led to see that a story can be told in three ways; it may be spoken, written, or pictured. The pictured method appeals to them, because all can understand it. The method of beginning must be varied, however, and it is not necessary that the teacher should make drawings every time a lesson of this kind is taught.
Mary pushed the chair across the floor.
When the class is listening attentively, repeat the sentence, ” Mary pushed the chair across the floor “, endeavouring to make the action as vivid as possible.
Ask the pupils to close their eyes and think of Mary. ” It is a heavy chair and Mary has to lean forward so that she can push hard. Think how her arms look. Where are her feet? Does her skirt hang lower in the front or in the back ?” After putting these questions, which the pupils answer for themselves, mentally, ask them to open their eyes and make a picture of Mary pushing the chair.
While the pupils are working, go about among them quietly, making mental notes of their mistakes. In from three to five minutes, no longer, have them sit back with their drawings held at arm’s length where they can study them, while you ask questions relating to the mistakes that you have observed, such as: ” How many have drawn Mary too small for the chair? Too large? With her feet so high that she appears to be in the air? How many have the lower ends of the chair legs higher than Mary’s feet, so that she appears to be holding it up ?” Watch to see that those who have made these mistakes discover their faults. If the class finds it difficult to get the action, dramatize the sentence. Call a little girl forward as far as possible from the class, so that all can see her, and have her push a chair across the room. If necessary, let those in the back seats stand or move quietly forward to a place from which they can see.
As the little girl pushes the chair, call attention to the relative position of feet, hands, knees, head, elbows, having the pupils note particularly the points where mistakes were made in their first attempt.
Let the pupils close their eyes again and call up the mental picture, then turn their drawings over and try again on the other side of the paper, or complete the first drawing if it can be corrected.
Send the pupils with good drawings to the front, so that those in the seats may compare their pictures with ones that tell the story better. Let the class choose the one which tells the story best.
The dramatic element is the thing of vital importance in illustration ; and an illustrative drawing in which this dramatic element is present, even though the figures are but poorly drawn, may be much better than one with figures well drawn, which is lacking in this vital element. The teacher should do little if any criticising of the drawings in Form I. His purpose should be to direct the attention of the pupils to those things which he judges by the mistakes in their drawings have been overlooked and to lead them to discover for themselves where their drawings are faulty, in order that their future efforts may show improvement.
GAMES AND SPORTS
Among the many games and sports that may be taken with pupils in Form I, Junior Grade, are hide-and-seek, football, hockey, building a snow man or a Teddy bear or a snow fort, snowballing, skipping, sliding, and skating.
Certain games and sports seem to be popular in some localities and almost unknown in others. The teacher must choose for illustration those that are familiar to the class, and he should make use of them at a time when interest in them is at its height.
He may begin a lesson by describing briefly, but as vividly as possible, some game he has seen which is common to the locality.
The pupils may then close their eyes and try to imagine the game as described, afterwards proceeding with charcoal, black crayons, or coloured crayons, to represent it by a picture or a series of pictures.
The tail-piece shown below is a fair example of what may be expected from a Form I class. This is a drawing by a Form I boy, and has been greatly reduced in size. The class had been given a sleigh ride, and the next day the pupils made pictures describing their outing. No two drawings were alike. In the drawing shown, the boys are seen scampering to the sleigh in which the two chaperones are already seated. Marvellous as are the hats of these ladies, they pale in comparison with the impossible steeds.
It is only when attempting to depict a similar scene that one realizes how much the small boy has accomplished in this drawing, notwithstanding his in-accuracies. He is just emerging from the symbolic stage; the few detached houses stand for the terraces in a city street, the larger building represents the school-house separated from the other houses and the street, as the piece of fence indicates. These are unimportant but necessary details. The hurry, the capacious sleigh, the horses, the interested onlookers, the restraining chaperones, and that nonchalant hero of the occasion, the driverthese are of consequence to the boy and loom large in his picture.
In all illustrative work the teacher must endeavour to get the pupil’s point of view. He may find in the absurd pictures a fount of amusement to be inwardly enjoyed, but the pupil’s thought is not absurd, and to depreciate or make fun of his effort may result in the stunting of his development and will most certainly destroy spontaneity.
When pupils are to have an outing or are to be given the opportunity of seeing a circus procession or a parade of any kind, they should know beforehand that they will be allowed to make pictures describing what they have seen, when they return to the class-room.