A friend sent me an article on the “Disturbances in the Child’s Relationship to Inner and Outer Pictures of Reality“:
Two pediatricians from a German municipal health office studied the capacity for pictorial perception among two thousand preschool children ages five and six prior to school entrance. In order to determine the children’s cognitive maturity and their pictorial perception and reproduction abilities in particular, they administered the so-called draw-a-person test, in which the children were to draw pictures of a person. The drawings were later evaluated by the pediatric medical doctors according to specific criteria, e.g. head-torso relationship, number of fingers on each hand, dynamic or static quality of the drawing, depiction of eyes and noses, and so forth. In this manner, it was possible to distinguish high-performing from low-performing children in each of the tested areas. The children’s scores were then compared to their average daily consumption of television and (in row C, below) to the daily extent of their “passive smoking,” that is, the number of cigarettes smoked by their mothers and fathers in the children’s presence.
After looking at the pictures from the article, I asked Aristotle to draw a picture of his father so I could compare his drawings with the results from the study. This is what he drew:
Hmmm… should I be worried? It looks like the picture of the children from category C – the passive smokers and the TV watchers.
Okay, so I was a bit concerned about Aristotle’s drawing… So I asked him to draw another picture. I asked him to draw a picture of his family. I really meant for him to draw Daddy, himself, his brother and me but he decided to draw his own family – as in the one in the future – of himself, his wife and his two kids. Interestingly, he has decided he is going to have a boy and a girl. The boy will look like him and the girl will look like his future wife but I digress…
This is what he came up with:
Looks more like the pictures from category A, right?
But I have a confession…
Before he drew the picture, I left this lying around:
It’s a picture that I drew – and yes, I realise it says a lot about my artistic skills, or lack thereof. And I realise that this is like leaving the answers to a test your child is going to sit for lying around. Technically, that negates the results of the test but if supplying Aristotle with a simple picture before hand can help him to add more detail to his own drawing, then what is the significance of this study upon a child who has attended art classes and been specifically taught how to draw? If I had sent Aristotle for art classes and made him practice drawing people, he would inevitably be better at this task and could possibly have drawn better than the kids in category A. Does this suggest that it is possible to help a child correct the disturbance between his inner and outer pictures of reality, if such a disturbance existed?
Food for thought…
After the second drawing test, I showed Aristotle the article and discussed the findings with him. Then we analysed both of his drawings together and talked about what it suggested. The discussion proved fruitful in helping him to re-assess his screen time. He agreed on the importance of having a balanced life and in making sure that his was balanced. I was delighted to see that after our little discussion, he decided to spend his afternoon away from the screen, choosing to do more drawing and to read some books instead.