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Motor Skill Required to Portray

The less the child attends to wrong forms and wrong movements the better. Only by attention to correct forms and correct movements while practicing can improvement be made.

A standard scale of handwriting with which children may compare their writing from time to time may be of great help. They thus gain better standards, learn to judge of their own work, and are stimulated to further effort by their success. After pupils can write an even, legible hand, tests of speed should be made occasionally to discover whether improvement in that respect can be made without decline in form. Rhythmical music while practicing penmanship is a great aid whichever method is used.

For many years drawing was regarded as a fine art, analogous to painting. The use of drawing in engineering industries, on the one hand, and the study of children on the other, have emphasized the usefulness of drawing as a means of expression in the field of form. Only a highly endowed and trained individual can use drawing successfully as a means of expressing ideas of beauty. However, everyone can acquire sufficient facility in drawing to make it a useful means of expressing ideas of objects and of their relations to each other. A training in the making of lines, sufficient to give facility in doing this, should be provided in the elementary schools, but no attempt should be made to secure artistic drawing from most children. Artistic expression should be provided for all, but this may be done much more satisfactorily in painting and by designing, using cut-out forms, or tracings, than by means of graceful, accurate lines in drawing.

This is true, not alone because only a high degree of skill can produce beauty by means of lines but because, in acquiring such skill, the child is inevitably retarded by the unsatisfactoriness of the results that he secures. His perceptions and ideas of beauty are always so much.

in advance of his motor ability that he continually has the dissatisfaction of failure. In writing, where accuracy only is required, this is not so inevitable.

In all these subjects but especially in drawing, teachers have usually taught in ways that increased critical perceptive judgment faster than motor skill. The effect has been most unfortunate in drawing, sometimes even when accuracy of representation rather than beauty was emphasized. This is evidenced by the fact that young children are generally willing to try to draw almost anything, while the older they get, the more shy they become in trying to draw any but the simplest objects. Nearly all kindergarten children, if requested, will try to draw the portrait of a man or a woman, while older children can scarcely be induced to make such an attempt.

Lines in drawing are used by a small child to stand for ideas in his mind, and it is not necessary that they should look just the same as the object represented. Crooked lines may indicate the stomach or other internal organs that the child has never seen, and be included in his drawing of a man as standing for what he regards as one essential of a human being. In drawing a house, a child makes lines or dots for whatever seems to him to be interesting and important, either the stove inside the house, or the wind that is making the windows rattle, regardless of what may be seen from any one point of view. So long as he is not impressed with the absolute necessity of showing things just as they look, he considers himself successful if his lines are so made or related to each other that he and others will know what he means. This is all that drawing as a means of expression demands, and this should be made the chief purpose in the teaching of the subject to most children. When this is done, drawing will always have meaning and will generally bring success, provided that care is taken in selecting the facts to be represented by means of drawing. Almost

How the

Child Uses

Teaching Drawing as

a Means of Expression

Speed, and


any four-year-old child can draw a square or a circle so that everybody will know what is intended. He can draw a birch and an apple tree, so that one can tell which is the apple tree, or a potato and a turnip so that one can tell the potato. Such drawings, however crude, are successful and give the child the satisfactory stimulus of accomplishing his purpose. Improvement in motor skill will come naturally if the ideas to be expressed by the drawing are gradually made increasingly difficult. Only after considerable motor skill has been developed and some knowledge gained of the way perspective is represented, can a child draw a picture of a box so that one can tell where he was sitting when he drew it.

If drawing is taught like language, as a means of expression, then the first essential is not beauty but understandability and every line drawn must be for the purpose of making the idea to be expressed more prominent. After success in this respect has been secured, it may be well to try to express the same idea with equal clearness and more beauty, but this purpose should be subordinate except for gifted and advanced pupils. If the purpose of making drawing a convenient means of expression to supplement or to be substituted for oral and written words were made the dominant one in teaching drawing, it would doubtless be one of the most popular subjects, and the pleasure and success of many adults would be greatly increased. When any other aim is made dominant, failure will be so frequent that little improvement will be made except by the few, and the typical child will leave school with less readiness to use drawing as a means of expression than when he entered.

On the purely motor side, the problems of developing accuracy, speed, and grace are very much the same as in other forms of motor training. The first guide is the visual image of what is to be made and that is compared with what is made; while a secondary guide is the motor

feeling of free, correct movements of various kinds. Whether the special-practice method or the combinedpractice-with-use method shall be made most prominent in training pupils to draw, is pretty much the same problem as in all motor training. In teaching a class, the first has advantages while the combined method may be used with little danger and many advantages as a rule in individual teaching.

In using the special-practice method, attention should be given to ways of using pencil, crayon, chalk, or pen and immediately after practicing special lines, there should be a drawing exercise in which, by means of such lines, some concrete fact is expressed.

In using the combined method, the teacher should look for the most prominent defect in the way in which pupils are trying to make the necessary lines and, without saying anything about the defect, should have the pupils watch her draw those lines by a better movement, then have them draw something requiring similar lines. She should not say anything about wrong ways of drawing and not so much about the right way as to divert the children from their main purpose of expressing something by means of the lines they are drawing and endeavoring to draw more easily, surely, and quickly. The best way of securing improvement, especially in the case of younger children, is by showing, rather than by telling.

Musical skill, whether in the use of vocal organs or of arm, hand, or fingers in playing an instrument, is acquired in ways similar to those used in other forms of learning. There is always a stage of learning what is to be done, and something of the how it is to be done, followed by a habit-forming stage in which there is a gradual approximation to accuracy, followed by a habit-fixing stage, as the same movements are repeated in a uniform manner.

Learning to sing differs from learning to talk chiefly in accuracy and in the number of muscles that must be




Learning to Sing Compared with


coördinated. The breathing muscles must be much more continuously and accurately correlated with those of the Learning to vocal organs, and the vocal cords must be more specifically and accurately controlled, while the tongue and lips mould the sounds. The ear reports the results of these combined movements and serves as the chief guide in perfecting and coördinating them, although visual imitation of another singer helps and motor sensations of muscular tension play a considerable part in the attainment of skill.

No matter how highly one may be endowed with a vocal apparatus he cannot under ordinary circumstances become a successful singer, unless he has also a "good ear" for music. His accuracy of muscular adjustment cannot become finer than his ear perceptions of the sounds he makes. Professor Seashore, of the State University of Iowa, has shown that the limit of improvement in perception of fine differences in pitch is reached after rather a small amount of practice. It follows from this that in judging the possibility of improvement in singing ability, not only must the vocal organs be considered but also the fineness of the organs for discriminating pitch. The construction of the vocal cords. determines how high or how low notes may be sung, but the control of the sounds within those limits depends on the development of coördination of all the muscles concerned, under the guidance of pitch perception. Professor Seashore has invented a machine which makes it possible for a singer to see a vibrating marker that shows just how nearly he is producing the sound vibrations corresponding to each pure tone. In this way a visual perception and image are substituted for the oral impression in guiding the muscular action. Some singers can, by using this apparatus, improve more rapidly and reach a higher degree of accuracy of pitch, than when they depend upon their sound sensations and images to

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