Effects of Drawing Approach and Class Setting on Symbolism of Children's Drawings on Conflict Experiences: A Study of Primary School Pupils in Nairobi County, Kenya
Though drawing is one of the methodologies of teaching conflict resolution within Peace Education, the structured drawing approach within group setting currently in practice is limiting in free expression of emotions by children on subjective experiences. This is due to the restrictive nature of this drawing approach and the distractive nature of group work that inhibits children's ability to concentrate on feelings. This denies the teacher access to affective data that can assist in transformative behaviour of the learner. In order to determine the most appropriate drawing approach and class setting that would enable children to express this affective data, this study investigated the effect structured and unstructured drawing approaches and individual and group class settings on symbolism expressed in children's drawings on conflict experiences. The theoretical framework guiding the study was a confluence of the emotionalist theory of art, micro theories of conflict and Piaget's theory of cognitive and affective development whose convergence was on symbolism as a means of expressing emotive information from the sub-conscious mind. Since the drawing tasks were experiential in nature, the research adapted an ex posta facto design within the framework of quasi-experimental study design to find out the effect of the independent variables upon symbolism, which was the dependent variable. Social cultural environment, drawing approach and class setting were the independent variables while symbolism expressed in the drawings was the dependent variable. Age, gender and socio-economic regions formed the framework for categorically analyzing data from the drawing contents. The study population was primary school children aged 7-12 drawn from low, middle and upper middle income regions of Nairobi County. Normal chi-squares were used to test the data since it was in nominal values. The findings of this study indicated that the social cultural environment influenced thematic expressions of conflicts and the kinds of aggressive behaviour depicted in the symbolism. Literal expression through physical modes and metaphorical characterization of the negative valence of conflict was significantly higher in unstructured drawings while individual class setting had the least peer influence on the expressed symbolism. The results indicate the need for teachers to consider the social cultural background of children when extracting affective data since it informs the symbolism. Results also showed that for free expression of feelings and ideas, children need an unrestrictive (unstructured) drawing approach and an individual class setting free from distractions. It is the recommendation of this study that draw-telling through unstructured drawing activities should be encouraged not just in art classes but across all subjects in the primary curriculum as a channel for children to express their feelings on conflict and other issues. Alongside this, teachers should consider individual class setting for purposes of creating an appropriate atmosphere for free expression of emotive content.