Thursday, September 25, 2014

Uncovering the mystery of the reluctant sketcher

I have always been somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to getting my students to work on their initial ideas, regardless of the nature of the project. Nothing can beat the sense of having your ideas sketched out on a piece of paper, with a pencil/pen, and seeing them getting all rough and raw, like chicken scrawls on a flat piece of sanded space.

Over the years that I've been teaching a design-centric lesson, I can't help to notice the various stages of sketching competencies that my students are at. I have always feel that you have to start somewhere when it comes to being a good sketcher or doodler, but I guess, the problem for most of my colleagues is in getting the students to even start. Perhaps there's that sense of expectation, and worry, that our students are often being ascribed too...this sense of fearing to fail. A significant number have this unfounded fear that their first sketch, or first few sketches, must be of a quality that can wow their friends, and even their own teachers. Maybe because of the thinking of students that sketching is something akin to other subjects...that showing them an example, or a few examples, with worked solutions thrown in, will enable them to level up to that level of expertise.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that not all of them can draw or sketch to save their lives, and worst still, some even have a deep sense of aversion to anything that is related to producing a sketch on a piece of paper.

I'd just like to highlight, based on my own observation, the few levels of sketching abilities that I always think my students are 'banded' into:

Level 0: 
At this level, students are merely tracing the shapes and outlines of the intended image. This is usually done either via tracing papers, or enlarging contraptions. 

Level 1: 
At this level, students are making copies of images either via a side-to-side comparison, or through viewing via a third party element, such as via a computer screen, photo from a book, etc.

Level 2: 
At this level, students start to portray some degree of creativity, and artistic flair, albeit at a very initial level. Final sketches are based on and inspired from some forms and shapes from Level 0 or 1, but are modified to include some additional details and elements from the artist.

Level 3: 
At this level, students are still inspired by works and forms from the previous levels, but the final sketches would probably have undergone a significant level of modification to warrant it as something that would probably be creative or/and innovative

Level 4: 
At this level, students are not only producing original pieces of sketches, but are sketching ideas and details based on their own interpretation of how and what their sketches are supposed to communicate. One would probably classify this as demonstrating the highest form of creativity, but I think I should reserve that judgement for a moment, as I also believe that attaining this level of ability, is not necessarily an affirmation that someone is creative.

So there you go, my interpretation of the different levels of sketching competencies, based on my own classroom observations.

Sketches done by students for a make-believe chair
Using swirls of blue in the Paper app by 53.

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