minds eye

Today I saw Lynda Barry talk about drawing. There is a little piece in her new book "Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor" that says "In the mind's eye: How have visual images influenced the way we think about thinking?" It reminded me of this blog entry from 2012...

I had suggested to a group of kindergarten girls that I thought the best way to show a journey that starts and ends at the same place is with a round piece of paper. They tried it, but in the end explained to me that I was wrong, that the journey they were representing was best shown as a "bumpy square." 
When the girls came back to the studio I asked them if  they thought that they all saw their forest walk the same way in their "mind's eye." Here are a couple of answers...

Isabel's picture explained how her feet take her on a journey. "1 foot is straight, 1 foot is turned. Right, left. Right, left."
"What's powering the feet?"
"Different motions...(Isabel walks and shows how her feet go)
"Are your feet doing that by themselves, or is something making them do that?"
"It's not my feet, it's my feelings. I feel around where I am, and use my eyes."
"But really, how do your feet know where to go? How do they know which direction to go?"
"..Something that...I'm getting lost, I feel around with my hands, I use my feet for the motions on the ground, and I use my brain to think 'where am I? Where am I?'"
"Like, you're close to your birthday, and my brain reminds me my birthday is soon."
"But does your brain actually talk to you in a voice?"
"Yeah. It sounds like God. Cause you know God makes everyone move. Like, inside your brain, there's a story, and God tells you...like, to help other people."

Kaiya- the mind's eye

"I was thinking that the light goes in your pupils and then it goes through and then it makes a big mix of colors, and then with all those colors it makes a picture! And it shows a picture of a flower popping out of the ground in the forest, so when the light comes in my eyes, I close my eyes and a picture comes -pops out- and then I know I just have to follow the flowers popping out of the ground.
"So the tools you need to find your way are your eyes, feet and brain?"
"It's not my brain, though. It's my eye." 
Isabel "It's a reflection. And then when you can see the reflection in your heart, you can go there."
Kaiya "The light goes in my pupils and then the light makes a big mix of colors, and those colors work together to make  a picture. And there's a bunch of flowers in the forest where I'm going, and so in my mind's eye I can see a flower popping out of the ground to tell me where to go. Then the color draws onto the object, and the other colors that you don't need go somewhere else. And so then all the colors I need come here (to my mind's eye) to form the picture."
Isabel "The reflection goes into your thinking. Actually the reflection in your eyes goes to your brain. ...I always use foot motions or hand motions where I'm going. It's like a pattern. Each time it's a different foot that turns. I would need to do a flip book to show it, cause it shows the different motions. This (picture) shows the basic. Basically my brain. 
Cause your brain has the heart, which is the love. And it has the thinking. The heart is just to keep you alive, cause it beats, but it's not really the loving scene." 

Sydney- the Sun

"I'm drawing a lot of pictures cause I like to draw. The sunshine?..when the light shines on the place where I'm wanting to go, then it tells me where I'm needing to go. The light shines, and I follow the light, and it helps me find my way.""
"Inside of here (head) does it look that way? In your head does it look the same as in real life?"

"I know it looks different. That's just how I think it works, not how it really works."
"Maybe you do know how it looks. Maybe you can teach the rest of us."
Kaiya "Well, you know how the world looks like, don't you?"

"The forest walk, it's not just a big circle. It's probably really squiggly. Can we do one in a bumpy square next?"


  1. I love the moment you try to sum things up by saying "you need your brain, eyes and feet" and rather than just instantly going along and agreeing with you they go in to clarify. I was also interested in the sentence towards the end where she says "That's how I think it works, not how it really works." I wonder what she really means by that. Is it self-awareness-- how I think about it? Is it that varied point of view we were talking about yesterday. Is it safer to put your ideas out there if you also leave room to be wrong and kind of not care? Or does she know she is thinking somewhat metaphorically about it all?

  2. Thanks for reading, Andrea!
    Sydney's comment was very intriguing to me, too. I do think she was saying that her drawing served as a symbol or metaphor, for her idea of finding the way to go. She seemed confident her way (the sun leading her with light) was the real way, but I think was saying that the image on the paper didn't show the enormity of it. That was really the big question I was asking the group- what is the real path, was is your internal image of it, and is the image on paper true to either of those?

    Your point about my question to Kaiya is very thought provoking, so thanks. It never occurred to me that she would agree with me, I was trying to ask a question that would lead her to clarify her thought to the group. It's scary to think now that she may have just agreed and stopped talking about her idea! Hopefully I know the children well enough that most of the time my guess or instinct on a leading question is a good one... but, yikes

  3. I guess my point in bringing up that she didn't just agree with you but went on to clarify was trying to say that I love that about children who are in social constructivits environments. It wasn't to question your questioning but rather to celebrate her comfort and confidence in helping to bring that clarity. It is just how things are around here. I wanted to take a moment to appreciate it and remember that it not how things are everywhere. Hopefully that makes sense.

  4. I like the way you put that! I have been thinking about this and just appreciating that we have a culture here with the children where are conversations are truly dialogs, where each protagonist feels equally powerful... you and I are on the same wavelength here!

  5. "Cause your brain has the heart, which is the love. And it has the thinking. The heart is just to keep you alive, cause it beats, but it's not really the loving scene."

    Just beautiful. Wish more people in power had a brain with a heart. Powerful. Would make great lyrics too.


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