International Journal of Art & Design Education

How Drawing is Taught in Chinese Infant Schools

Volume 31.1   2012



The benefits of drawing for children are wide-ranging but are likely to be mediated by the art curriculum and other governmental guidance to teachers relevant to drawing/art. Furthermore, such statutory regulations vary between cultures, and therefore curricula represent an important influence on the cultural differences found in children's drawings. Previous articles on the teaching of drawing in Chinese schools have commented upon the emphasis placed on children copying from adult drawing models. However, a new art curriculum was implemented in Chinese infant schools (3–6-year-olds) in 2002, still in operation today, which instead places an emphasis on the children's enjoyment of drawing through making creative and expressive pictures from their imagination. This article describes the key objectives stated in the Chinese art curricula for infant schools. We also present an interview with a Chinese infant school teacher in which she provided in detail how the curriculum is typically applied to the teaching of drawing. The interview also provided some background context to why the curriculum was changed and to its delivery. The article comments on the pedagogical practices adopted, and comparisons are made with Western art education and, in particular, to the teaching of drawing/art in England for the same age group. Finally, we consider what implications the Chinese approach has for the ‘non-interventionist’ approach to young children's drawing/art that is frequently found in Western art education.