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Developmental art in the low literacy classroom


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An exploration of the art from my Liberian senior citizen low-literacy Sunday School class with a look at the parallels to developmental art in children and different cultures. Presented at the LESLLA (Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition) conference in Minneapolis, MN in 2011.

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Developmental art in the low literacy classroom

  1. 1. Jean Marrapodi  @jmarrapodi401-440-61615<br />Developmental Art in the Low Literacy Classroom<br />
  2. 2. Context<br />Adult Sunday School Class<br />Liberian refugees<br />Senior citizens, age unknown (not tracked in Liberia)<br />Meet 1 hour/week for past 5 years<br />
  3. 3. Preamble: Spring 2006<br />Lesson One: Palm Sunday<br />Draw a picture to illustrate the story<br />Could not do.<br />Through a translator: “We can’t do that. We haven’t practiced like you have to be able to do that.”<br />
  4. 4. Preamble Two<br />Lesson Two: Easter<br />Ok, let’s copy some drawings to tell the story.<br />We can’t do that.<br />
  5. 5. Preamble Three<br />Let’s try to copy some symbols then.<br />Could not complete unless dots were drawn to connect the lines.<br />Circles were misshapen and barely recognizable.<br />
  6. 6. No Print Awareness<br />Elizabeth<br />loves<br />Jesus<br />Switched cards:<br />Elizabeth<br />loves<br />Jesus<br />Said: Elizabeth loves Jesus.<br />
  7. 7. Reading Art: Part One<br />Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston<br />Adam and Eve<br />CHATTER!<br />Ho-hum<br />
  8. 8. Reading Art: Part Two<br />
  9. 9. Setting One: October 2010<br />Pastor Appreciation Sunday<br />Given a template with prompts:<br />Pastor Berkley is ___________<br />Pastor Michele is ___________<br />I love my pastors!<br />Learned what the prompts said. Asked to come up with a word to fill in. They either copied the word or had teacher spell it.<br />Draw a picture of you and the pastors.<br />
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  19. 19. Setting Two (following week)<br />Given blank paper and markers<br />Draw a picture of you with your grandchildren<br />Teacher wrote names of children<br />
  20. 20. Annie K.<br />
  21. 21. Elizabeth<br />
  22. 22. Martha<br />
  23. 23. Essah<br />
  24. 24. Kumba<br />
  25. 25. Annie G.<br />
  26. 26. Frances<br />* Granddaughter came over to “help”<br />*<br />*<br />*<br />*<br />
  27. 27. Setting Three (following week)<br />Discussion about houses in America vs Liberia<br />Let’s draw pictures of your houses here and in Liberia.<br />Given blank paper and markers<br />Teacher wrote words as given prompts<br />
  28. 28. Martha<br />Martha lives in an apartment building. <br />
  29. 29. Elizabeth<br />America on the left.<br />Liberia on the right.<br />Elizabeth lives in apartment 511 in a high rise building. She takes an elevator to get to her apartment.<br />
  30. 30. Annie K.<br />Annie lives on in a triple-decker in RI.<br />
  31. 31. Annie G.<br />Annie lives on in a two story single family home.<br />
  32. 32. Frances<br />Frances lives on the first floor of a two story house.<br />
  33. 33. Kumba<br />Kumba lives in townhouse type apartments in a complex<br />
  34. 34. Essah<br />Essah lives in a second floor apartment.<br />
  35. 35. Setting Four<br />Kumba’s spontaneous drawings brought from home in the subsequent weeks.<br />
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  39. 39. Other Projects<br />Painting background for nativities – 12/2009<br />Cutting snowflakes – 1/2011<br />
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  43. 43. Parallels to Children’s Work?<br />Does their natural development mirror emergent literacy?<br />
  44. 44. Drawings of people by nursery school children<br /><br />
  45. 45. Tadpole Figure<br />From a severely mentally handicapped adult<br />By a pre-school child<br />By a pre-school child<br /><br />
  46. 46. Sarah – 3.2 to 3.4 years<br />people<br />a cat, Tyrannosaurus rex, and a leopard<br /><br />
  47. 47. Helen, 4.5 – 5.5 years<br /><br />
  48. 48. Rachel, Age 7<br />
  49. 49. Developmental Art <br />Development in Children<br />
  50. 50. Callaghan Phases of Development<br />Callaghan, T.C. (2008) The origins and Development of Pictorial Symbol Functioning. In Children’s Understanding and Production of Pictures, Drawings, and Art: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe. P 22<br />
  51. 51. Donley, S.K. 1985/1987 <br />Adapted from teacher inservice training materials for early childhood, art education, and special education workshops.<br /><br />
  52. 52. Rhoda Kellogg: Gestalts<br />Kellogg, R. (1969) Analyzing children’s art. Paolo Alto, CA: National Press Books. P 109<br />
  53. 53. Kellog’sScheme of the Evolution of Pictorial Work<br />Common Sequences<br />Kellogg, R. (1969) Analyzing children’s art. Paolo Alto, CA: National Press Books. P 273<br />
  54. 54. House-Tree-Person/Kinetic HTP<br />Measure aspects of person’s personality 3 years-adult<br />Common in art therapy<br />Questionable validity<br />1948/1969<br />
  55. 55. Josiah, Age 4<br />
  56. 56. Noah, Age 6<br />
  57. 57. Rachel, Age 8<br />
  58. 58. Micah, Age 10<br />
  59. 59. Annie K. <br />
  60. 60. Frances<br />
  61. 61. Kumba <br />
  62. 62. Martha<br />
  63. 63. Elizabeth <br />
  64. 64. Essah <br />
  65. 65. Student Descriptions of House-Tree-Person Drawings<br /><br />
  66. 66. Value of Using Art<br /> "This adapted Kinetic-House-Tree-Person for adults with developmental disabilities holds promise for providing an arts-based assessment that assesses for growth and positive changes in the individual in addition to negative or downward changes. Verbal assessments are not always appropriate due to verbal limitations within the individual who has developmental disabilities, therefore, arts therapists have at their disposal alternatives for assessing for change in functioning. Because this assessment mirrored the notes of the on-site therapists, this assessment suggests it can measure change. It also suggests that arts based interventions do, in fact, facilitate well-being and positive changes in interaction and communication." <br />p 45 Lister & Rosales In Snow and D'Amico<br />
  67. 67. Value of Using Art<br /> "...there is evidence of a relationship between thought and drawing that becomes visible through the study of meaning-making processes. Drawing supports the movement from simple spontaneous concepts to more complex concepts and plays an important role in promoting higher mental functions. " <br />Brooks, Drawing to Learn in Making Meaning p. 9<br />
  68. 68. Is It Cultural?<br />
  69. 69. Alexander Alland, 1983<br />240 children’s drawings<br />Six cultures<br />Bali<br />Ponape<br />Taiwan<br />Japan<br />US<br />France<br />Definite cultural variants<br />
  70. 70. PonapeNow Pohnpie, Micronesia<br />Male, 4 years, 19 minutes<br />Female, 5 years, 5 minutes<br />First encounter with drawing<br />Limited exposure to art<br />Generally single color<br />Human figures rare<br />Nonconformity with Western norms<br />Male, 5 years, 14 minutes<br />
  71. 71. Bali<br />Male, 3.3 years, 30 minutes<br />Female, 4.6 years, 25 minutes<br />Overall density<br />Polychromatic<br />No stories<br />Highly artistic culture<br />Male, 2.6 years, 18 minutes<br />
  72. 72. Taiwan<br />Female, 4.8 years, 10 minutes<br />Female, 6.8 years<br />Long heritage of art<br />Filling, building, touching, details<br />Picture making influenced by relationship between pictorial representation and writing<br />Male, 5.2 years, 24 minutes<br />
  73. 73. Japan <br />Male, 5.6years, 27 minutes<br />Female, 3.10 years, 14 minutes<br />Modern aesthetic in culture<br />Highly visual culture<br />Colorful, often single subject<br />Female, 4.11 years, 8 minutes<br />
  74. 74. Alexander Alland, 1983<br />Conclusions:<br /> “…the two most important elements in drawing skill among young children are experience and exposure to art.”<br />P 63<br />"On the basis of my data I believe that representation and symbolism are things children are consciously or unconsciously taught to do by adults and other children. This leads to the conclusion that the only safe definition of children's drawing can be 'playing with form.'" <br />p215<br />
  75. 75. What we know about Liberia’s Art<br />Known for their carved masks<br />Music and dance very important<br />Kissi make baskets and weave on vertical looms<br />Literacy rate: 25%<br />Dan, Mano, Kran, Kpelle tribal art<br />,%20Mano,%20Krahn,%20Kpelle/index.htm<br />
  76. 76. Relating this to Writing<br />
  77. 77. Children Create Letters in Art<br />"Most of the letters of the English alphabet, both capitals and lower-case forms, are made by young children as art Gestalts. In art, the letters are placed or arranged to complete a Pattern or an implied shape. In language, the letters are arranged in a certain order within words and are put into a certain left-right and top-bottom placement. As the child learns to read, he must perceive the differences between the esthetic and the linguistic positioning of letters, and as he learns to write, he must put this perception to use. <br /> Each child who has scribbled a great deal will know many of the letter Gestalts when he enters school, but he needs to learn the differences between their uses for art and for language. Otherwise, he will have serious difficulties with language.”<br />Kellogg, 1970 p 262<br />
  78. 78. Not seeing letters, but shapes<br />
  79. 79. Elizabeth did the same thing<br />
  80. 80. Learning to Read and Write Art<br /> “...human artistry is viewed first and foremost as an activity of the mind, an activity that involves the use of a transformation of various kinds of symbols and systems of symbols. Individuals who wish to participate meaningfully in artistic perception must learn to decode, to "read" the various symbolic vehicles in their culture; individuals who which to participate in artistic creation must learn how to manipulate, how to "write with" the various symbolic forms present in their culture,and, finally, individuals who wish to engage fully in the artistic realm must also gain mastery of certain central artistic concepts. Just as one cannot assume that individuals will – in the absence of support - learn to read and write in their natural languages, so, too, it seems reasonable to assume that individuals can benefit from assistance in learning to "read" and "write" in the various languages of the arts.”<br />Howard Gardner, Art Education and Human Development, p 9<br />
  81. 81. So what? And now what?<br />What have you seen here?<br />Have you seen this in your classroom?<br />Is drawing a precursor to writing?<br />Where do we go from here?<br />
  82. 82. Sources<br />Alland, A. (1983). Playing with Form. New York: Columbia Universtiy Press<br />Brooks, M. (2002). Drawing to learn. Unpublished PhD thesis. Alberta: University of Alberta, CanadaBrooks, M. Drawing to Learn. In Narey, M. ed. (2009). Making Meaning: Constructing Multimodal Perspectives of Language, Literacy, and Learning through Arts-based Early Childhood Education. New York: Springer<br />Camnitzer, L. (2009, Feb). Art and Literacy. e-flux.<br />Camnitzer, L. (2009,Oct). Alphabetization, Part One: Protocal and Profieiency.<br />Freeman, N. H. (1987) Children's drawings of human figures - The Oxford Companion to Art, available, accessible, quite, real. Online:'s-drawings-human-figures.html<br />Gardner, H. (1990). Art Education and Human Development. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust<br />Hagood, M.H. (2000). The Use of Art in Counselling Child and Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishing<br />Kellogg, R. (1969). Analyzing Children's Art. Palo Alto, CA: National Press Books<br />Lister, S, and Rosales, A. . The Kinetic-House-Tree-Person Adapted to Adults with Developmental Disabilities. In Snow, S. and D'Amico, M. (2009). Assessment in the Creative Arts Therapies: Designing and Adapting Assessment Tools for Adults with Developmental Disabilities. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publishers<br />Milbrath, C. & Trautner, H.M. eds. (2008). Children's Understanding and Production of Pictures, Drawings & Art: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe<br />Vygotsky, L.G. (1970). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Edited by Cole, M., John-Steiner, V. Scribner, S. & Souberman, E. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press<br />
  83. 83. Jean Marrapodi <br />401-440-61615<br />Adult Literacy Students Draw<br />