Jed Draws His Bicycle


The Jed Draws His Bicycle flash drive demonstrates an approach to learning called "drawing to learn." In essence, this approach asks the child to represent with marks his or her current theory about how something works, in this case, how the pedals on a bike makes the bike move forward. Jed, a seven year old boy, is asked to draw this process, not to draw the shape of the bike or its parts as a picture, but to draw an explanation of how the bike works; that is, to draw his understanding.

In Part I, Jed commits his ideas to paper before he goes outside to view his bike. In Part II, he goes outside with his drawing to view his bike. In Part III, he returns inside to draw the combination of his ideas and his memory of what he saw. Together, these three parts demonstrate that children draw what they know and can study their drawings to help them reconstruct an incomplete theory. It is important to ask children to draw before looking at an object so that the drawing flows from the child's assumptions about function (how the bike works) rather than observation (how the bike looks as a static object).

Watch how Jed draws two sprockets for the bicycle chain with neither sprocket attached to a wheel. He explains how the two sprockets are necessary to hold the chain up, but in Part I he does not explain how the chain turns the wheel. If Jed had started by drawing the bike as he looked at it, he might have drawn the rear sprocket over the rear wheel, not because he understood this placement as a necessary part of a mechanical sequence of action, but because that is where the rear sprocket is on the bike. In drawing to learn, one literally encourages the children to take risks and thus to make mistakes so that their misconceptions can become visible and thereby more explicitly repaired.

The flash drive also includes a text file that explains Jed's work.

Keywords: Child-Teacher, Teaching, Drawing, Simple Machine, Invention, Symbolization

Length of stand-alone master video clip: 11 minutes 16 seconds