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Br J Educ Psychol. 2000 Dec;70 Pt 4:485-503.

The effect of three different educational approaches on children's drawing ability: Steiner, Montessori and traditional.

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Department of Psychology, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK.



Although there is a national curriculum for art education in the UK there are also alternative approaches in the private sector. This paper addresses the issue of the effect of these approaches on children's drawing ability.


To compare the drawing ability in three drawing tasks of children in Steiner, Montessori and traditional schools.


The participants were 60 school children between the ages of 5;11 and 7;2. Twenty children were tested in each type of school.


Each child completed three drawings: a free drawing, a scene and an observational drawing.


As predicted, the free and scene drawings of children in the Steiner school were rated more highly than those of children in Montessori and traditional schools. Steiner children's use of colour was also rated more highly, although they did not use more colours than the other children. Steiner children used significantly more fantasy topics in their free drawings. Further observation indicated that the Steiner children were better at using the whole page and organising their drawings into a scene; their drawings were also more detailed. Contrary to previous research Montessori children did not draw more inanimate objects and geometrical shapes or fewer people than other children. Also, contrary to the prediction, Steiner children were significantly better rather than worse than other children at observational drawing.


The results suggest that the approach to art education in Steiner schools is conducive not only to more highly rated imaginative drawings in terms of general drawing ability and use of colour but also to more accurate and detailed observational drawings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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