International Journal of Art & Design Education

Children’s Drawing, Self Expression, Identity and the Imagination

Volume 21.3   2002



Directions, Volume 18 Number1 [1] suggests that postmodern theory is beginning to have a significant effect upon educational practice. Atkinson [2] has directed attention towards the effects of both the construction of the subject and the real within art teaching. Much postmodern theory challenges the unitary, pre-existing subject. This paper will argue that the persistence of an ideology of self-expression which asserts that all representation is in connection with (should be read in relation to) a singular, pure, pre-existing self acts to limit our understandings of the complexity of children’s representations and is in conflict with many contemporary positions. Research has centred on the development of ‘out of school’ sketchbooks. Large sketchbooks were given out to nursery and reception children paired with older siblings in primary education. Possible drawing activities and interests were discussed and children were left to develop the sketchbooks at home. Two weeks later (including a half term holiday) the children were interviewed in relation to the drawings developed. The drawings have been considered in relation to contemporary approaches to self and identity. The conclusions of this paper revolve around the possibilities of reading children’s drawing in relation to self and identity through the interaction of social context, discursive practice and agency in a manner which is suggested by Ricouer’s formulation of the social imaginary. Additionally, the substitution of tenacious notions of expression with concepts of agency and contingency grounded in the characteristics of ‘citationality’, articulation and narrative are suggested as a basis for developing the educational potential of drawing.