Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How to Draw Inspiration from Great Writing

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How to Draw Inspiration from Great Writing

Article excerpt

When I want to lighten the atmosphere in an English lesson, I draw something on the whiteboard. Since I have no artistic skill whatsoever, my efforts are always met with laughter. And I frequently ask students to draw pictures, even though my subject deals mostly with words.

Discussion of a text can often be limited because students haven't read it closely enough. Asking them to illustrate part of a text means that they must read carefully if they are to draw an accurate representation.

I often use this method, which can be adapted for any level, to teach about characterisation.

For example, each student receives a copy of the opening page of Hard Times, in which Dickens introduces Mr Gradgrind. I read it aloud, then with no further discussion hand out paper and pens and ask them to draw a picture of Mr Gradgrind. Initial cries of "But I can't draw!" are met with a reminder of my own limitations and the promise that I will attempt the task as well. This helps the students to relax and we enjoy a leisurely 15 minutes of sketching. …

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