© 2002, 2010 Susan Rich Sheridan
|Dr. Susan Sheridan is an artist, writer, parent and teacher. She received her undergraduate degree in Classics and English from Harvard College and her MAT and her doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. For the past twenty years, Dr. Sheridan has taught English and Art at the middle school level, and studio arts and art history at the college level, promoting what she calls a Neuroconstructivist theory of education with the cross-modal practice Drawing/Writing.
Her approach rests on the fact that the brain constructs itself in response not only to genetic blueprints but to environmental influences, including the influence of parents and teachers. This brain has two hemispheres, a right and a left, a visual and a verbal, a spatial and a linguistic mode. These two sides, two modes work separately and together in special ways in humans who are able to speak and to write. Dr. Sheridan is especially interested in the effects of writing as a range of meaningful marks - scribbles, drawings, writing, mathematical notation, musical notation - on the evolution of the human brain, as well as on the development of modern children's brains in connection with their abilities to think as artists, writers, mathematicians and musicians, but as speakers. Research suggests that the work of the hands and the mouth evolved together. Scribbling and drawing influence children's speech.
Dr. Sheridan believes that the best brain for children to develop are balanced, or bi-lateral brains, at ease with drawing and writing, art and English, mathematics and music, able to speak comfortably about these multiple literacies. Her research and practice point the way toward multiple literacies at home, and at school, as well as in the workplace where technology clearly requires brains equally adept at image and word.
Dr. Sheridan lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and in Addison, Maine. She has three adult children, and three grandchildren, who are the center of her life. An avid gardener, she also raises laying hens and pigs. The rest of her time, she mows, sails, and walks and thinks about scribbling, drawing and writing.
|To an unprecedented degree, a technological society requires visual literacy skills as well as verbal skills. These requirements place considerable pressures on the classroom, the home, and industry. This book meets this demand for multiple literacy skills by encouraging the natural, evolutionary 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 models integrated brain function . 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. The more mark-making systems we use, the more powerfully we think. Multiple literacy is our goal and our birthright.|
|Learn how to acquire and teach the New Literacy using this teachers' workbook Drawing/Writing and the new literacy, Susan Rich Sheridan, 1997. $33.95 including postage and handling. The How-to section of the book is written in a script-like form. Drawing/Writing can be taught by reading aloud.
Drawing/Writing and the new literacy: where verbal meets visual is a textbook/handbook for teachers and for schools of education. It is also a parents guide to a home literacy program. The book provides classroom support for teachers across grade and discipline who are interested in a broader approach to literacy, or who have already been trained in Drawing/Writing through workshops or through school of education courses or via self-instruction. the book provides the same kind of support for parents. The 500-page book is illustrated with student work across grade and field grades K-12, as well as at the college level, and at the Elderhostel level.
The book is divided into four parts. The first part provides the rationale for a new theory of education called neuroconstructivism * (Sheridan, 1990) and a new literacy strategy across content areas called Drawing/Writing. The rationale is from a combination of sources: art history, psychology, childrens drawings, the history of writing, and, most compellingly, neurobiology. The second part of the book lays out the five-step Drawing/Writing program step by step while providing supplementary information, especially in connection with geometry, or the study of shapes in space. An ethics component is included in connection with abstract drawing using two new concepts: Acceptable Differences and Right Relationships. The third part of the book -Hitchhikers Guide to Brain Science - offers information on brain structure and function, including 13 tips for teachers and parents and students on how to encourage and enhance brain development. This section includes a heightened-experience approach to school-based drug education programs. The last part of the book outlines a generally applicable cross-modal approach to curricula called The Thinking Child. This section includes detailed, illustrated cross-modal English and Fine Arts curricula appropriate K-12 as well as at the college level.
For more information on the book or courses and presentations on Drawing/Writing, consult this site. If you have further questions or requests, contact the author/instructor/consultant directly at:
Susan Rich Sheridan, Ed.D.
68 Maplewood Drive
Amherst, MA 01002
PROFESSIONAL WRITING - all articles published in 2000 are downloadable
Conferences, Lectures, Workshops, 1972 to present
Integrating the Arts, interview with Robert Merriam, host, radio talk show, Greenfield Community College, 1985
Grading and the Arts, and Art as a Paralinguistic Bridge, Independent Secondary and Middle Schools Association, ISAM Conference, l985, Southshore, MA.
"Teaching Art in a Boys' School in New England." Presenter, ISAM conference, Sturbridge Village. Emphasis on art as a para-linguistic bridge into literacy for the ESL student who is not yet fluent in English, as well as for the language- or attention-troubled student (ADD, LD, ADHD) who may have more facility with non-verbal, visual forms of expression, 1985.
Training to Transfer, New England League of Middle Schools, NELMS, l987.
Five Colleges Writing Workshop, Drawing/Writing, Mt. Holyoke College, l990.
Drawing/Writing: Scope of a Brain Research-based Writing Program. Developing Thinking Skills in an Age of Cognitive Pluralism., National Orton Society Conference, Washinton, D.C., l990
Drawing/Writing and the Native American Middle School Student: Multi-Cultural Applications of a Brain Research-Based Writing Program, New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, RI., l991.
Drawing and Writing: Connections and Implications, College Art Association, Session Chair and Presenter, San Antonio, Texas, January, l995.
"Why Art? The Missing Piece of the Educational Puzzle. What it means to be literate in the 21st century," lecturer/presenter, Westfield State College, l995 - l996. Discussants, Math Prof. Julian Fleron, English Prof. Gregg Neikirk.
Springfield School System, Arts and Technology faculty workshops, l997-98. Drawing/Writing in one and two-day workshops for art teachers and technology teachers.
Fall l998 workshop, Drawing/Writing, for the full faculty of the Montessori Community School, Scituate.
Session Presenter, Drawing/Writing, New England League of Middle Schools, NELMS, 1997.
Session Presenter, Drawing/Writing, New England Art Educators, NAEA, l997 and l998,
Session Presenter, Drawing/Writing, National Conference Teachers of English, NCTE, l998 .
Workshop, "Neuroconstructivism * (Sheridan, 1990): Educational applications of drawing and writing," School of Education Hillocks
Conference, University of Chicago, NCTE, "Re-imagining English instruction," June 17-19, l999.
Westfield, MA school system, Drawing/Writing workshop, April 9, 2000.
A New Theory of Multiple Literacies, lecture, Westfield State College, March, 2000.
Lecture/Workshop, Drawing/Writing, School of Design, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, March, 23, 2000.
Lecture/Workshop, Drawing/Writing, School of Education, Southern Connecticut State University, April 5, 2000.
May 2000 Conference, Mind, Brain and Spirituality. Lesley College, Boston. Lecture: The Magic Mirror: A Brain-based, Self-Reflectvie Drawing and Writing Program. Jon Kabat-Zinn also presenting at this conference.
April 8, 2000, Lecture/Workshop, 4 hours, Drawing/Writing, Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA.
June 2000, weeklong intensive, graduate credit course, Drawing/Writing and the New Literacy, Merrimac Educ. Ctr., Chelmsford, MA. through Fitchburg State College, MA.
July 2000, weeklong intensive, graduate credit course, Drawing/Writing and the New Literacy, UMASS, Amherst, Cont. Ed.
October 11-14, 2000, presenter, Drawing/Writing, 32nd International Visual Literacy Conference, Univ. of Iowa, Ames, Iowa.
November, Basic, Intermediate Dr/Wr workshops, 8 hours, Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA.
Feb. 2001, weeklong, 3-credit Basic, Drawing/Writing course thru Cont. Ed., UMASS, Amherst.
March, April, 2001, 8-hour workshops, PDO credit, Drawing/Writing, Cambridge College, Cambridge,MA.
May, 2001, two-hour talk, Dr/Wr, Massachusetts Art Education Association, Worcester Art Museum.
July, 2001, 4 courses in Dr/Wr offered through UMASS Cont. Ed and Fitchburg State College via Merrimac Education Center, Drawing/Writing Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.
August, 2001, Toward a Science of Consciousness, poster presentation, The Scribble Hypothesis, Skovde, Sweden
November, 2001, International Visual Literacy Conference, poster session, Very Young Childrens Drawings and Human Consciousness: The Scribble Hypothesis, Skvode, Sweden.
October, 2001, Brain Compatible Literacy, Brain Compatible Tests, New England Association of Teachers of English conference presentation, Nashua, NH.
November, 2001, Drawing/Writing and Human Consciousnessness: Neuroconstructivism * (Sheridan, 1990) and Human Mark-Making, New England Art Education Conference, Hyannis, MA.
March, 2002, presenter, Drawing/Writing and the new literacy: new standards, New England League of Middle Schools Conference, Providence, RI.
April, 2002, presenter, Multiple Literacies and Signing across Systems, Carmbridge College New Literacy Paradigm, Springfield, MA.
July, 2002, presenter, The Scribble Hypothesis,: International Reading Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland.
April, 2004, poster session: "Scribbles: The missing link in a bio- evolutionary theory of language with implications for human consciousness," Toward a Science of Consciousness 2004 conference, University of Arizona, Tucson.
November 2004, keynote speaker, "The Scribble Hypothesis," California Association of Art Educators, Riverside,CA.
2004-2007, free afterschool play/literacy program using Drawing/Writing, elementary school children, offered from the Art Barn, Basin Road, Addison, Maine.
2005-7, writer/co-designer with researcher Deborah Wasserman of the ArtSafe, "Side by Side" program, aimed at building self- esteem and critical thinking skills as well as parenting skills in truant teenage mothers, using the Drawing/Writing method.
2008, forming non-profit organization, "Saving Literacy," a start-up cottage industry to publish the preschool literacy workbook, and to provide free literacy classes for adults and preschool children with a caregiver, as well as farming, marine, and woodlands education with am emphasis on mutual community support.
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