The Sketchbook: a Creative Tool for Personal Development

Concept by
Duilio Garofoli

Table of Contents


Despite being one of the most distinctive human capacities, drawing has been often neglected in the educational domain. In this course, we are going to rediscover it by working on a very effective, and yet overlooked tool: the sketchbook.

The course will show how keeping a sketchbook does not simply enhance drawing abilities. Instead, it will support participants in discovering the many ways in which it helps the development of many fundamental life skills.

First, keeping a sketchbook leads its owner to exploring the perceptual appearance of things, and improve their comprehension of how the world is organized visually. From this stage, the drawer is ready to reflect on their perceptions, thereby improving their meta-cognitive capacities and critical thinking.

Second, keeping a sketchbook allows connecting with people, and filling in the divide between teachers and students. To get a good grasp on this, the participants of the course will be invited to share the contents of their sketchbook. In the classroom, this can be exploited to explore others’ experiences, overcome cultural barriers, and enhance emotional connections among learners.

Third, drawing allows reconnecting to our inner self by offering the chance for auto-analysis and witnessing personal development through time. Drawing upon a series of techniques from art therapy (such as doodling, intuitive drawing, and emotional marks), participants will explore the sketchbook’s potential for self-discovery and awareness.

Fourth, course participants will explore how sketching acts as scaffolding for visualizing non-existing realities. This creates a potential for ameliorating the learning process by making thinking visible, facilitating the acquisition of concepts, easing text loads, and so forth.

Finally, course participants will discuss the principles of concept art to understand how sketching can also improve creativity and nurture imagination. Rather than teaching how to produce technically flawless outcomes, the course will primarily focus on clarifying the benefits of developing sketching and visual journaling habits and transferring these competencies to young learners.

The participants will explore the many potentialities of sketching with respect to learning and even self-discovery and personal development. By its end, course participants will master many techniques ready to be introduced to their educational contexts in order to foster individual and collective growth within their classrooms.

Learning outcomes

The course will help the participants to:  

  • Develop sketching and visual journaling habits for multiple purposes;
  • Enhance visual perception abilities and critical thinking;
  • Boost creativity and visual imagination;
  • Increase students self-awareness;
  • Foster interconnection, empathy, and social bonding;
  • Enhance intercultural connection through drawing practices;
  • Augment learning abilities through visual thinking strategies.

Tentative schedule

Day 1 – Introduction to sketching

  • Introduction to the course, the school, and the external week activities;
  • Icebreaker activities;
  • Presentations of the participants’ schools;
  • Setting out of the participants’ needs and objectives;
  • Once upon a time there was drawing;
  • Why starting to draw (again)?
  • The sketchbook as a transformative tool;
  • Course main goal: understanding the multiple potentialities of the sketchbook for education;
  • Now grab your pencils and show me something!

Day 2 – Sketching for perceptual awareness

  • Warm up;
  • Drawing as world-discovery;
  • Still lives are interesting;
  • Nurturing imagination;
  • Principles of concept art.

Day 3 – Sketching for self-discovery

  • Warm up;
  • Mindful doodling;
  • Intuitive drawing;
  • Emotional marks;
  • Self-awareness and auto-analysis.

Day 4 – Sketching for social connection

  • Warm up;
  • Drawing for well-being;
  • How to organize a sketchbook workshop;
  • Gentle sharing sessions;
  • Getting interconnected through drawings;
  • Drawing other cultures and getting aware of them.

Day 5 – Sketching for visual thinking and learning

  • Warm up;
  • Visual thinking and visual doing;
  • Exploring the role of drawings in learning;
  • Augmented texts and visual schemas;
  • Icon libraries;
  • How can these tools be used in teachers’ daily activities?

Day 6 – Course closure & cultural activities

  • Course evaluation: round-up of acquired competencies, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;
  • Excursion and other external cultural activities.

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