A new book series Draw to Learn, will be published shortly by Brew Drawing. It outlines how drawing enhances learning and boosts brain power and memory. The series will begin with a general book about drawing and learning, followed by workbooks on a wide range of subjects. The books will show why it is helpful cognitively to do something on the page, rather than just read or look - you draw to embed the knowledge.
Pencil Power - Drawing is underused as a thinking and learning tool, particularly in our increasingly visual global society where it is a shared language that can cut through barriers and enable novel ways of communicating. Visual forms allow us to imagine new relations, test ideas and elaborate knowledge, with digital technologies increasingly used to construct elaborate maps, 3D simulations, graphs or enhanced photographs. These visual tools are not simply passive communication devices but actively shape how we build knowledge. Drawing and visual representation are important for learners, for problem solving, reasoning, structuring arguments and conceptualising. Drawing helps us to approach and frame problems in novel ways, opening doors to new understandings and solutions.
Yet few educational systems recognise drawing as a core skill for learning. Research on drawing can be difficult to access and to apply to classroom practice.
With my colleagues at Thinking through Drawing we have created an educational framework with drawing at the centre. Our aim is to practically demonstrate and explore the power of drawing for problem solving, and the strong arguments for using drawing in every classroom and profession – indeed in every life. Our practical training courses offer exercises and interventions that can help instructors to encourage student drawing to strengthen visual reasoning. The Draw to Learn book series will support and strengthen our interdisciplinary research and education programme.
Themed workbooks on specific disciplines are in production: Draw to Learn: Maths, Draw to Learn: Singing, Draw to Learn: Shakespeare...and more. Each book will include interviews with experts from education and cognitive science, and comprehensive up to date references and reading lists.
Groovy learning: the introductions to each book will also include instruction on how to embed knowledge in your memory, by using pencils either to trace, redraw or colour in images.
Useful links and references to support Drawlearn projects: Kantrowitz A., Brew A. and Fava M. (2011) Thinking Through Drawing: Practice Into Knowledge, proceedings of an interdisciplinary symposium on drawing, cognition and education(eds) Teachers College, Columbia University, Art+ Art Education, New York.
Prof Shaaron Ainsworth, LSRI (Learning Sciences Research Institute) Director. https://www.lsri.nottingham.ac.uk/research/drawingtolearn Published in Learning & Instruction in 2006, “DeFT: A conceptual framework for considering learning with multiple representations” describe the advantages of learning with more than one representation (e.g. diagram, equation, graph) but balances this with consideration of what complex tasks a learner must achieve to do so. She concludes “always have a good reason for using multiple representations and design the activities to support learners to realize it.”
Hockney D. (2012) Interview with Alan Marr at the Royal Academy exhibition 2012 www. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00pd79w J
Ofsted (2012) Making a mark: art, craft and design education, Ofsted.
Petherbridge D. (2010) The Primacy of Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice, Yale University Press.