A manual for teaching human figure drawing in the Senior Secondary School (SSS) Visual Art Programme

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The problem of this study is that, there is an apparent lack of confidence and competence on the part of both students and teachers in handling human figure drawing resulting in the poor performance of students in human figure related questions in the final examination (S.S.C.E). The objectives of this study are- to assess the availability as well as the cultural and technical appropriateness or otherwise of textbooks and other reference materials for teaching human figure drawing in the Senior Secondary Schools in Ghana. It is to further assess the time teachers devote to the teaching of the subject and also find out if students are apprehensive in their approach to human figure drawing due to cultural reservations. It is also to analyse the findings and their implications on human figure drawing with the view of developing an appropriate manual for teaching human figure drawing in the Senior Secondary Schools. It was hypothesised that the general lack of textbooks, insufficiency of time allocated for teaching the subject, students’ apprehension based on cultural biases were the causes of the lack of competence and confidence in human figure drawing by students and teachers alike. Survey, observation, experimentation, descriptive and analytic research methods were employed in this thesis. Data from both primary and secondary sources were gathered from books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, as well as interviews and questionnaires served to individuals. Review of related literature covered the historical background of human figure drawing, human figure and nudity, human figure drawing techniques in selected textbooks, Chief Examiners Reports as well as existing canons. Data from the reviewed literature revealed among other things that nearly all cultures - (reviewed) conceptualized and portrayed the human figure either naturalistically, abstractly or semi-abstractly at various stages in their history and for varied reasons and purposes. On the whole, the analysis of data revealed that even the only officially approved textbook for teaching human figure drawing in the Senior Secondary School, (S.K. Amenuke et al 1992), General Knowledge in Art for Senior Secondary Schools, is inadequate. The few foreign authored books used by some teachers to augment the official one are both technically complex and culturally inappropriate for the Ghanaian students. Teachers also devote little and irregular periods for teaching the subject, while their individual training and competence in human figure drawing fails to make any appreciable effect on student’s performances. It also came to light that not only would majority of Ghanaian students and their teachers feel uncomfortable drawing from live nude figures, but some, especially the religious ones - notably Moslem students consider the whole idea of pictorial representation of the human figure as sinful. These confirmed the hypothesis of this research. Based on the findings, this manual was developed to enhance the teaching and learning of the subject. Simplified approaches involving basic geometric shapes, match stick figures, lines and ovals were used to illustrate the drawing process. At the end, a trial test of this manual on a class of 50 first year students showed 75% success in helping students to improve their competence and confidence in the drawing of the human figure. it has been suggested that, the necessary logistics including, studios, models and other art materials be provided for effective teaching and learning of the subject. Moslem leaders are also encouraged to demystify the drawing of the human figure to encourage Moslem students venture into such a taboo area.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Arts in Art Education, 2003