|One idea for teaching linear perspective: |
8th grade Surrealist drawing by Meagan, student artwork from Mrs. Nichols' classroom
This article is a follow up to "Linear Perspective; How Do You Teach It?" Here I have listed ideas from other teachers - call me crazy, but I love to study other art teachers' methods of instruction! I read a book once, The Teaching Gap, where the authors compared the way math teachers taught 8th graders in Japan, Germany, and the U.S.A. In Japan, the teachers spent many hours working together to come up with the BEST way to teach a specific concept. The group watched one of their members teach the lesson, then they would re-group to discuss and analyze how effective it was. These teachers would have another member of the group teach the same lesson AGAIN, to a different group of students, and then analyze the effectiveness of that lesson.
How cool would it be if art teachers could team up this way, collectively figuring out the BEST way to teach otherwise challenging concepts like linear perspective and observational drawing? My supervisor, Stacia Jacks, wrote a grant a few years ago that provided a way for us to visit each other in our classrooms to observe and learn from each other. That was one of the best professional development experiences I have had!
This year, it just isn't possible to take a day off work to go observe another art teacher teach linear perspective. However, after posting the article below, I heard from a few other art teachers about what they do to solve the linear perspective conundrum:
- On the blog, Primarily Art With Mrs. Depp, the teacher scaffolds the lesson by using a series of dots to help the kids learn to draw lines with the ruler. This is a wonderful article by Sheryl Depp!
- There are also terrific resources here: One Point Perspective Worksheets, Dawn's Brain
- Laura Bailey tried using graph paper for her 6th grade students to practice keeping their horizontal and vertical lines straight - brilliant!
- Mohammad Dolatabadi suggested I use YouTube videos - I looked but initially couldn't find one that would capture middle school kids' attention. However, I did eventually find a great list of videos that Amy Zschaber (artfulartsyamy.com) has included in her article, Teaching Perspective in Creative and Engaging Manners. This one is pretty good, too: "Behind the Scenes With David Hockney; with Penn and Teller."
- I also found this YouTube video (iDraw) on the excellent blog by Alexandria Quinn called "Come To The Art Side; Thursday Think Tank - 1 Point Perspective," where she had her middle school students create a large perspective mural out of masking tape! This video below is a time-lapsed demonstration of an artist drawing an alley in 1-point perspective:
- That reminded me that in past years, I used this super short video from artsconnected.org, The Artist's Toolkit; Linear and Aerial Perspective. This is very good for young students because it is extremely simple and extremely short!
- Stacia Jacks suggested I differentiate my instruction, keeping it simple for 6th grade by just having them do "simple optical illusions using perspective points so they get used to using the ruler and measuring correctly." Then, the kids who are ready for a challenge can do the "Imaginary Room" drawing while the others can just finish their optical illusion "Floating Form" design.
Drawing from Mr. Beau Brown's classroom
"three buildings, one below, one above and one that crosses the horizon line. The check list: 3 buildings like they went over. A pathway going to the vanishing point. A row of the same objects going to the VP. A sign in perspective saying the name of their town. 10 objects of their choice." He also says, "The majority gets it.
You will have some that understand that the slanted lines that point to the VP is what makes depth, but they get confused when you tell them that things are supposed to be smaller in the background. And you get giants walking next to skyscrapers. Lol" (Mr. Brown also attached a brilliant Power Point presentation that he created and if I could I would upload it to this website - I can only upload videos and pictures at this time...)
- Jennifer Ellis, a high school art teacher, told me she has done this "Op-Art Name" lesson with younger kids and it seemed to work most of the time. She also reminded me that sometimes it is just the group of kids!
- Casey Williamson, who has an exploratory class for only a few weeks with 6th grade, said that she doesn't teach perspective to 6th graders at all - only 7th and 8th graders! I laughed out loud when I read her email - why exactly have I been pulling my hair out trying to get mine to understand the concepts when I could just wait a year!
- Finally, Kendell Stewart writes, "Tylenol...and good rest at night. It is also difficult to teach at the high school level." Very funny, Mr. Stewart!
I think a lot of it relates to a simple inability to grasp abstract concepts. I believe some 6th graders (possibly) are just not developmentally ready to learn linear perspective in a more complex way. (The fact that 2/3 of the kids didn't have art in elementary school is a huge factor, too!)
I have seen elementary art teacher blogs where they show the kids the vanishing point and horizon line and the students copy the teacher's drawing of a road exactly. Although this exercise is valuable, that is not what I am talking about here. I want my students to truly understand and be able to use the concept in increasingly complex ways, not to just copy a drawing.
Piaget's theory of children's cognitive development says they cannot reason abstractly (Formal Operational Stage) until the age of 11 or 12 and we all know kids develop at varying rates. For children still in the Concrete Operational Stage (ages 7-11), thinking through a problem requires real, proven, non-hypothetical variables.