Drawing as transformational tool for student engagement towards a future ready classroom environment

  • Date: June 24th, 2015
  • Author: admin


Much has been said about changing the way we must teach. Our current teaching methods, processes and use of knowledge have been rendered obsolete. We are now at the crossroads of implementing what the academicians and researchers call the knowledge age of network and collaborative learning. But after finding out and carrying out the principles of what and how the future schools should be taught, I would like to pose this question:

How do we lay this out in front of our class? How can we entice and engage our students? How can we even begin to manage a positive classroom experience conducive for future focused school for both the teachers and learners?

Many will not argue that the obstacle to classroom teaching is the behavioral issue. If we can somehow manage this behavior and transform it in to a manageable level then we can teach. What can we do to interest these kids?


This is not a manual for classroom management but it will offer some options that can be practiced inside the classroom. Let me begin by saying that the first important step is to be ready to fail. I know it may not sound encouraging, but this is the risk we have to face for every calculated classroom adventure or whatever adventure for that matter we want to take. Whatever our methods are the chances of failure poses a tremendous pressure on us. But we have to remember, that aversion to risk is not going to take us any further on the new culture of the future-focused ideas. Much of the ideas for innovations involved risks.

Risk and failure is just as important as our success. In fact, we should teach our kids how to deal with failures and consider it as a survival skill we should impart. As one article puts it “Failure—never sought, always dreaded, impossible to ignore—is the spectre that hovers over every attempt at exploration. Yet without the sting of failure to spur us to reassess and rethink, progress would be impossible. (“Try again. Fail again,” wrote Samuel Beckett. “Fail better.”) Today there is growing recognition of the importance of failure. Educators ponder how to make kids more comfortable with it. Business schools teach its lessons. Psychologists study how we cope with it, usually with an eye toward improving the chance of success. Indeed, the very word “success” is derived from the Latin succedere, “to come after”—and what it comes after, yes, is failure. One cannot exist without the other. Oceanographer Robert Ballard, a veteran of 130 undersea expeditions and discoverer of the Titanic, calls this interplay the yin yang of success and failure (Bloch 2014).


Let me argue that allowing learners to come up to you, in front of the class is empowering for them. And this is where I am coming from. Draw. This drawing activity is largely an on-going experimental pedagogy I have been practicing and the qualitative data I have been getting is positive and promising. Allowing students to draw on the white board and letting them to take the position of the teacher can inspire participation, learning and collaboration. Some observers in my classroom would even say it is reciprocal teaching. It is indeed a powerful representation of what a teacher-student relationship could be as it encourages, trust, respect and communication between teachers and students in which the student take turns assuming the role of the teacher.

It fosters the students’ ability in decoding and comprehension skills. If we can lure the students off their boredom they will participate and it is the most important first step towards learning. One of the most classic and still used technologies known to any teachers is the technology of writing and drawing. It is said that drawing never goes out of style. You may say it is easy for me because I can draw. But in my experience the less you know how to draw is better for the classroom. This is because students would be happy to oblige to correct your drawing, add up to it by putting more details and for most part learners can see what you are talking about.

Computers will come and go but the simple act of drawing in its basic form can open up communications. To further this argument, Claxton in his lecture *Epistemological Apprenticeship* says that creating a form of thinking tool and forms of language that invite imaginative or critical engagement by students as well as efforts to comprehend and retain information is crucial to learning. Drawing or doodling can be our form of thinking tool to do this.


Drawing could be an integral part in the knowledge age and we only have to consider its profound origins in ancient civilization and in contemporary theories about its influences especially in the field of technology, science and creativity. Everything almost starts with a drawing. Most if not all teachers could draw and this will not require new demands in our already hectic classroom activities. In fact, we only need to understand that this activity leads to reflective conversation with a student or a basis for another conversation with another teacher.

Drawings help students to learn by visualizing and retaining information. This also helps them participate in classroom discussion and later engage with the educational literature, otherwise they might not notice. Studies show that this can even help them recall and communicate what they have learned because of the visual cues. It offers the inter-connectedness of all subject curriculums just like semiotics as it illustrates the intertextuality of all literature.

In an article in Medical Xpress which was also picked up by TV ONE in 2012 it reported that: *“Drawing may be particularly useful for science students, since science often uses visual aids such as graphs, drawings, videos and still images to explain hypotheses, theories, and findings, but Dr Ainsworth stressed that drawing should complement other activities such as writing and talking, rather than replacing them. She also said that drawing should be a key component and should enhance creativity rather than being a mere “colouring in” activity*.”

*The researchers suggested that drawing should be regarded as a valuable element in science education, along with reading, writing, and verbal discussions. The scientists also suggest that if students were allowed to
draw when exploring science they could become more motivated to learn than if they are required to learn by rote, as is often currently the case. Students also tend to enjoy their learning activities more than if they are asked to remain passive recipients of their education.Informal science education opportunities are often represented as merely being “fun,” but the research suggests these activities might be undervalued, and that activities that seem like play can actually stimulate the interests of students and be used by them to explore their scientific interests. Stimulating an interest in science is important if students are to be motivated to engage in scientific research over the long term.*


*The new study, reported in an article in the journal Science* link Here

*adds to research reported in 2009 in Applied Cognitive Psychology, which found that college students who
doodled during routine tasks had improved memory recall over those who did not. The research suggested that doodling prevented the students from daydreaming, which would have distracted them from the task at hand.
*Dr. Ainsworth is a Director of Learning Sciences Institute in the University of Nottingham whose research interests include representational learning including learning from multiple representatiosn, visual
representations and learning by drawing. She has also the author of the book: *Drawing to learn in science*.


We have to ask this question, is there a connection between these creative activities of drawing in the knowledge age?

*Because drawing is personal*
This simple act of acknowledging them to be in your usual space bequeaths them with mutual respect and alludes to their personal learning. You can make it a part of your learning routine.

Article written by Mr. Jesse Enriquez.
Mr. Enriquez is a teacher based in New Zealand.
You may visit his professional teaching website
at www.tinyurl.com/portfoliojesse