Vancouver Students Engage in and Talk about Art

Four classes composed of over 100 students participated in this year's Sketchbook Project 2014 over the course of a period of six weeks.

Peggy Bochun, the district's Fine Arts Coordinator and one of the program's driving forces says getting kids drawing is critical to helping them acquire literacy and skills. She credits UBC professor Bob Steele for decades of work inspiring art teachers and students around the long term benefits of drawing projects.

Steele says the importance of drawing at an early age can't be underestimated.

"Many children never get to draw except superficially, others are encouraged to draw but are left on their own without the care and attention of adults. Only a small minority get daily and systematic help in the form of conversations with adults about themes before the drawing begins," says Steele. "When drawing is nurtured the benefits flow: intellectual development, mental health, mental healing, more effective learning, empathy for others and bonding with caring adults."

The first phase of the project, called The Habit of Drawing, included daily drawing activities over a three-week period. Students were immersed in the process of creating sketches that highlighted artistic strategies while encouraging personal interpretation of themes. The second phase of the sketchbook project, Talking About Art, focused on encouraging students to develop a vocabulary that would enable them to participate in meaningful discussions about art.

Students participating in the project came from Strathcona, Brock, Carnarvon and Southlands Elementary Schools.

Artist in Residence Phyllis Shwartz says big thanks need to go to Teacher Education Office Community Field Experience Coordinators Dr. Keith McPherson, Rod Brown and John Yamamoto. She says the project was a partnership with Learning Services/District Fine Arts and so they also deserve recognition. 

Following the completion of the project, the students' work was put on display in the foyer of the Vancouver School Board.  This display of work completed by the students commends the journey that was taken by participating in the project and expressing feelings through art.  

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