By Rob Barnes

Mixing functional rules with sound ideas, Rob Barnes covers crucial themes akin to `how teenagers draw', `design and problem-solving' and `developing ideas', with realism and mind's eye.

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Example text

The problem to be resolved in doing topic work is that as children become engrossed in fact-gathering and analysis, they tend to overemphasize this aspect to the exclusion of being creative. Who, after all, wants a new and creative shape for a Viking ship, or some creative spellings? There is almost always a huge bank-balance of facts around to be taken account of. We can, though, have creative paintings of Viking 20 The Value of Art ships and a creative use of words without ignoring the fact that their shape or spelling are somewhat fixed.

After all, teachers need to be clear about their ideas and transmit enthusiasm to children so that they feel able to cope. There is nearly always an end-product produced as the result of any creative work which is going on. In fact the end-product, to a certain extent, is what identifies the creative process which has taken place (see Best, 1985). Defined end-products are attractive because we know exactly what to prepare and what we are all supposed to be doing. Being vague and indecisive is no virtue.

Children see how to draw birds by joining up two circles, or fishes by adding to an oval shape. Or they learn to draw a shape for themselves and repeat it over and over again. When they develop their own repeated symbols this is quite natural to them and part of their evolving perception (see Lowenfeld, 1970). But when shapes are forced on them by an adult, then progress may be somewhat held back. Around the age of 7, or even earlier, children can become dissatisfied with the symbolic drawings which they have done and are likely to say that they cannot draw properly.

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