Beyond Representation: Exploring Drawing as Part of Children’s Meaning-Making

Kirsten Darling-McQuistan* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing is an everyday feature of primary school classrooms. All too often however, its role within the classroom is limited to a ‘representational’ one, used to demonstrate the accuracy of children’s images and representations of the world. Furthermore, drawings, which most closely ‘match’ objective, dominant perspectives are generally given greater value. Reflecting on the role of drawing in the classroom is particularly interesting at a time when there is increasing emphasis on ‘evidenced-based’ and research-informed practice within schools. Such a policy context, which is primarily concerned with ‘objective’ forms of evidence, raises questions about a possible role for drawing to support a more nuanced understanding of learning processes, taking account of the uniquely contextualised experiences of the children. In response to this context, this article reports on my engagement – as a primary school teacher in Scotland – with a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project with children aged five to seven. The project enabled us to explore how drawing could support our own, collective meaning-making. The process involved employing walking and drawing as methods to open up rich linguistic spaces to enable the children to engage with and reflect on their lived experiences. The analysis of the drawings that were created surfaced many tensions within the Scottish education system as they were highlighted from the perspectives of the children. Such findings point to the need for more relational interpretation of ‘evidence’, arising from classroom actions and interactions, which include the perspectives of children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Art & Design Education
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
EventiJADE Conference 2016: drawing - University of Chester, Chester, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Nov 201619 Nov 2016


  • children's drawings
  • meaning-making
  • evidence
  • complexity
  • phenomenology


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