Policy on Copywork

Copying teaches students to rely on the ideas and images of others.

Generally, ideas for drawings come from one of three sources: memory, imagination or observation. Children draw according to their emotional involvement with the subject. They perceive and illustrate the world around them differently than do adults. That is why “kids” drawings are more imaginative than realistic.

When we allow copying or demonstrate “how to draw” to get predetermined results, we are teaching students that their ideas are not good enough.When copying from a magazine picture or photograph (2-D to 2-D), the major decisions already have been made for the student – composition, placement on the page, values, color intensity, etc. The student does very little thinking on his own. By observing (looking at) a three-dimensional object and transferring that image to a two-dimensional surface, the student is involved in many more thinking strategies. It is more important to teach students “how to see” in order to draw, rather than “how to draw” in order to see.

  • Do not allow copywork in your classroom. This includes “freehand” copying of illustrations, photographs, commercial patterns, or duplicated materials.
  • Use of light/tracing tables, and grid techniques should be limited to copying only the student’s original design.
  • Art work should be done from the student’s original design and not from step-by-step directions.
  • Teachers should never draw on student artwork. Demonstrate techniques on scrap paper or on the margin, but always allow students to complete their own work.

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