Lesson Structure

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The following is a short summary of some important things to consider when delivering a drawing lesson. The teacher should first acquaint themselves with the learning goals of the exercise: its point. They should be able to communicate this clearly to the students. It might profit them to practice talking through this point to themselves. When addressing the learning goals, the teacher might benefit from employing visual aids to help clarify important points. Such aides might be example drawings, slide shows or diagrams. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is the motto. It is the habit of students to avoid public displays of ignorance and to approach the teacher ‘one to one’ with their questions. This is especially common after the teacher has verbally introduced the exercise to the whole class. It is best to respond to such questions in a manner that the whole class can hear, as doubtless others will have the same question.

  • Students are to be told at the start of the exercise approximately how long it will last. This will determine the pace of their drawing.
  • When drawing from observation, students are encouraged to actively choose their vantage point carefully. If not, then they are likely to return to the same drawing position each session, regardless of the particular needs of the drawing.
  • When delivering an exercise involving a still life, the teacher is to arrange sufficient still lives such that each student gets a clear view of one. This may take some time, which the teacher may use to introduce the importance of effective preparation.
  • When students are using easels, care is to be taken that they position themselves correctly to them (see easel placement).
  • During a long exercise, a teacher should ‘make the rounds’: looking at everyone’s work as it develops. They need to ensure that all students receive some feedback, even if it is perfunctory. It is all too easy for a teacher to only spend time talking with those students who are easy to talk with, which can be demoralising for others.
  • When reviewing a student’s drawing, it is important for the teacher to sit/stand exactly where the student was sitting/standing when they drew it. In that way, the teacher shares the student’s vantage point. This may be preceded by a polite “may I sit/stand where you are sitting/standing?” Teachers are to avoid leaning over the student when they review the drawing.
  • While ‘doing the rounds’, a teacher might encounter in a student’s work something that they believe to be of common and immediate interest to the whole class. They can consider gathering the class round to share this. This strategy will be at the risk of interrupting their concentration and is therefore be used sparingly.
  • It is easier to address the shortcomings of a drawing by physically correcting it. The teacher is not to feel worried about doing so: an effective correction is worth a thousand words. Again: ‘show, don’t tell’.
  • Near the end of an exercise, the teacher is to give a countdown (for example: ‘five minutes remaining’).
  • Teachers are to avoid employing ‘teacher voice’ which tends to be shrill and nagging. It is amazing how more effective it is to lower one’s voice and employ a more measured tone.
  • All students are to be expected to complete each exercise. It is common for students to dwell excessively on the details of a drawing, at the cost of completing it. Such students are to be ‘hurried along’.
  • The success of a class depends heavily on having a set of appropriate hand-out material, such as annotated slide talks and written notes. This can take a long time to accumulate and refine, but is worth it. It can clarify for the student what the teacher wants, and can also deepen the teacher’s understanding of the many formalities of art. This book grew in part out of such material.
  • Finally: teachers are to remember that a drawing course needs to be delivered several times before it is perfect. The first few times it is likely to be a bit rough at the edges.