Marks and Mind
Marks and Mind is a comprehensive set of publications addressing literacy. These books and papers clarify the importance of symbolic reasoning to human thought in terms of social connection, range and control of emotion, strength and length of attention, expressivity, creativity, the development and use of language, including speech, and the tone of the general attitude toward self and the world.Dr. Susan Rich Sheridan's theory and practice describe and facilitate the radical importance of scribbling and drawing as spontaneous mind/body activity in early childhood, and the powerful connections between drawing and writing for thinkers of all ages. For background information about the theory supporting this comprehensive marks-based, Scribbling/Drawing/Writing practice, see Dr. Sheridan’s papers, “The Scribble Hypothesis,” and “A Theory of Marks and Mind.” Click here for more information about the author.
The New Literacy
To an unprecedented degree, a technological society requires visual literacy skills as well as verbal. This combination of visual and verbal skills, or the ability to produce image as well as text, is "the new literacy." Children's natural drawing skills and their tendency toward a broad range of communicative marks is often marginalized or misunderstood. Technology's requirements for this new literacy forces us to take another look at spontaneous mark-making behavior - scribbling and drawing - in children, and to respect it and encourage mark-making as the place where this new literacy - in all its range and variety - begins. Dr. Sheridan's books meet this demand for multiple literacy skills by encouraging the natural capabilities of our brains, starting with the universal skill that everyone can do, drawing.
The abilities to write and to read depend upon core skills including the ability to pay attention, to extract information, to communicate ideas and emotions clearly, and to use both words and images. In short, to use the whole brain. These skills can be learned through training in drawing. Drawing is a universal skill. Everyone can draw. No one teaches us how. Drawing is a language instinct.When talking and writing accompany drawing, verbal skills grow and a double literacy develops, both visual and verbal. This “new literacy " is as old as paleolithic cave drawings and as new as computer technology. The New Literacy rests on a new theory of multiple literacies. Humans as language-users have one unique characteristic: they make marks of meaning. These marks first take the form of scribbles. Then, children draw. The marks are equipotential: they can become anything: drawing, writing, mathematics, musical notation. The number of systems for meaning-making each of us learns depends upon opportunity, encouragement and instruction. It depends on our parents, our teachers, our environment, and our culture. Ultimately, it depends upon our brains and how we choose to use them.
Neurologically speaking, literacy is visual/verbal; it is both. The corpus callosum connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain insures that thinking is a complex, cooperative unity- no matter what kind of thinking is going on. In this sense, the New Literacy models integrated brain function. The more mark-making systems we use, the more powerfully we think. Multiple literacy is our goal and our birthright.