Data shows that keeping a journal or a sketchbook promotes observation, visualizationand critical thinking in any curriculum.
An artist’s sketchbook is a bound book with blank pages that artists use to keep visual records of observations, plans for future art projects, ideas and themes with which they are interested, and verbal, often personal, reflections. Artists may incorporate some or all of these uses into their personal sketchbooks in order to best suit their needs as an artist. (see links to artists’ sketchbooks here
BUT… Sketchbooks aren’t just for artists! Many people keep “idea journals” where they jot down thoughts, sketch ideas, or write to occupy their time. Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison both kept books where they designed, sketched, wrote, and played with their ideas! You can find lists online of other people who have kept journals, diaries, or sketchbooks here and here!
Students can be taught to perform creatively. There are a number of educational theories of creativity that Runco (2007) shares that can be used to help teach students to be creative and make creative products. These theories support the incorporation of sketchbooks to help develop student’s creative thought processes.
“In fact, educators need to do at least three things if they wish to support creativity in their students (Runco 1991b): 1) Provide opportunities for children to practice creative thinking. 2) Value and appreciate those efforts. 3) Model creative behaviors themselves.” (Runco, 2007, p. 179)
Runco states that the teacher must first incorporate a creative outlet into the curriculum. The sketchbook is an effective way to allow students the freedom to individually create and explore. Anderson & Milbrandt (2005) describe a student’s research sketchbook to be used as a place “to consider one or more issues, forms, or ideas through critical, historical, and aesthetic inquiry; visual examination and note-taking; personal reflection; and creative visual expression” (p. 173). Creative visual expression is listed as one of the main pillars and functions of a sketchbook. This would suggest that students could be taught to use their sketchbooks creatively.
Students should place value on their creative efforts. Creativity is already an important part of the art education curriculum and has been, so incorporating another tool for creative development would support the goal of the current art education goals. Sketchbooks enhance artistic development and the student’s personal thought processes, although sketchbooks should not be able to be a central emphasis for fostering creativity.
In photography, keeping a sketchbook fosters skills to plan and observe by thinking divergently, solving problems in an original fashion, while displaying flexibility thereby visualizing the image before they record it.
Upper level student examples of photography 2d art sketchbooks