Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings

Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings

Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings

Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings


Psychologists have long understood that the art works of children relate to their intellectual and emotional development but this is the first book to describe the developmental process of drawing. Gardner explores the vital links between children's art and their emotional, social, and cognitive development.


When he was eighteen months and three days old, my son Jerry grabbed hold of a marker lying on the table in front of him. He swung the marker against a piece of paper, repeated this action again, and then stopped. Noting that no mark had been made, he then turned the marker around, so that now the felt tip, rather than the blunt end, could strike the paper. When still no mark was forthcoming (because the felt had dried up), Jerry dropped the marker and went to fetch another one. He curled his hand around the new marker, loosely enough to retain flexibility, yet secure enough to ensure some control over the direction of his movements.

This time his swipes were crowned with success (12). Using his elbow as a pivot, he unleashed a rapid, semicircular motion which produced an arc on the page; and as he repeated this circular gesture several times, a number of overlapping arcs came to cover the center of the sheet. Looking deliberately at the paper and continuing to gesture as feverishly as only an excited young toddler can, he then proceeded to bang the marker against the paper a number of times, letting out a squeal with each bang, and in the process producing a series of little dots. Breaking out into a broad grin, Jerry then dropped the marker, lifted the piece of paper, and handed it to me, announcing in a satisfied manner, "Daddy."

Jerry had produced a scribble, not his first and possibly not even his most appealing, but unquestionably a scribble, a series of markings on a page which recorded two minutes of activity of the musculature of his hand, wrist, and forearm. Few would want to apply to this product a more honorific term than scribble, and, indeed, the term scribble is often used by individuals—including educators who should know better—as an expression of disparagement. But this scribble represented an achievement for Jerry—as indeed such scribbles do for every young child.

To be sure, the gap between what Jerry had drawn, in the . . .

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