Why Observational Drawing is Important

 Why do teachers at Sabot encourage the practice of observational drawing? 

People going down stairs

As social constructivist educators we know that knowledge is created—that is, constructed—when human beings add new information to the understandings we already hold. Therefore it’s important that we be able to communicate ideas to each other. Sometimes verbal explanations are enough, but very often a visual representation helps us really see and hear another person and understand what they’re thinking. So in our classrooms, being able to draw and to interpret other people’s drawings is crucial to learning.

As social beings, we rely on interaction, cooperation, and mutual exchange in order to understand the world; observational drawing is a powerful meaning-making tool both in the cognitive and emotional realm. An important element of this drawing-to-learn work is a commitment to draw as accurately as we can in order to record our observations and to communicate them well to others. 

Another reason teachers encourage drawing is that it allows children to experience mindfulness in practice as teachers help them separate what they see from what they imagine they see. Observational drawing strengthens noticing through close observation and attention to detail. By drawing children connect the hand to the eye through the brain and use multiple executive functioning skills at once such as active working memory, spatial reasoning and flexible thinking.

Part of the observational drawing practice at Sabot is being able to show our drawings to the group. Teachers help children learn to participate in constructive and helpful dialog. Sabot students learn how to give useful feedback to each other and to accept that help in turn. This whole process creates a community that can rely on each other, can communicate with each other, and can work together with a trust that new knowledge is being created for the good of the whole group.