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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Inventerview:

Read the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine interview with Mel Peterman

Other Writings:

This section has the most recent writings on the top.

Drawing is for Everyone, An article by Melvin G. Peterman,  ©2003

Home Schooling and Career Options, An article by Melvin G. Peterman,  ©1999


Drawing is for Everyone 

An article by Melvin G. Peterman


Originally Published in Home School Enrichment May/June 2003

Frank Lewis, the publisher of Home School Enrichment, recently approached me and asked me about the possibility of writing an article regarding some technical subject that would be of interest to his readers…  As it happens, I love technical topics.  I hope you do to.  Don't worry; it will not be really technical.  I'll save that for another time.


The place I choose to start is to attempt to answer the question of why learning to draw and sketch is so important, with a focus on technical drawing and drafting.


The need to draw seems to be as strong and natural in most children as it is to walk and talk.  For some people, like myself, clarifying speech with a drawing or sketch is natural.  Almost every child I have ever met likes to draw and to dream.  Most adults do not like to draw and are embarrassed about it.  What happened?  There can be many reasons for people not to draw.  Some of these reasons can be overbearing criticism from a trusted parent or other family member, a teacher, or peers.  For children to continue to draw through childhood and into adulthood, it is important that they are not criticized.  They need support to build up their abilities.  Part of this stems from the fact that drawing is a way to connect with and express our thoughts.  If our drawings are criticized, we take it personally.  So many adults just state that they can not draw and therefore will not try.  If you press an adult to draw, it can bring anger and other emotions boiling up in the person.  So take some advice:  as an adult, you just have to get over it.  Drag out the art books (every homeschooling family has at least one) and try it.  Children should be given every opportunity to draw, sketch, paint, and do other hands-on craft activities.


So why is drawing so important?  The connection from hand to eye is essential to good learning and long-term retention.  This fact has been proven again and again.  Just talk to vision therapists, parents, and other interested people.  Drawing is just as important as writing skills, music, etc. Drawing is about communication and building your brain early in life, similar to playing a musical instrument at an early age.  Inadequate communication and lack of communication is blamed for all types of problems.  In fact, in most life situations communication is the one thing that people always want improved.  They want more of it.  They want it clear.  They want it concise.  Communication is vital to every kind of relationship.  I do not want to imply that drawing pictures will solve all of our communication problems.  It will not; however, it can add clarity and precision to the written and spoken word.


Drawing is a part of everyday life and a large part of many different career choices.  Let me present one of my favorite scenarios of life:  Let's say that you are an employee and you get called on to attend an impromptu meeting with a client or boss who wants a problem or situation fully explained.  You know the problem or situation fully; you just would have liked some time to commit your thoughts to paper and take some time to write a clear report.  The situation has become more urgent (for whatever reason) and you are pressed immediately into a small conference room that is too small.  The important person is sitting front and center.  Grimly, the head cheese tells you to fill him in; he has ten minutes before his next meeting.  In this too small of a room is a table, eight chairs, twelve people (most of whom you've never seen before), and a white board.  You are now forced to communicate with only the tools at hand…  I think you get the picture.  Whether it is drawing pie charts, parts, describing how a computer network is connected, an ad campaign, or product ideas, drawing is the clearest method of communicating.  It is clean and efficient.  You do not want to be the person that starts the presentation with "I can't draw…"  By this point, you have probably realized that I am not talking about classical type art.  You need some practical drawing experience that gets the point across without taking a long time to do it. 


Sketching and drawing need not be more involved than using a pencil or pen and a piece of paper, with or without grid lines.  The point is to draw what you see, whether it is in your mind as you remember it or as you wish it to be or reproducing some external item.  There are a few common ways to sketch and I have some links on my website that can add to the information I have stated here:


Orthographic projection is a flat two dimensional method used for pie charts, maps, floor plans, etc.  Link: http://www.sixbranches.com/CAS04.htm


Isometric is a type of three-dimensional representation that is used in engineering drawings to quickly show three sides of an object.  You can draw the top and two sides or the bottom and two sides.  This method is easier to draw than perspective.  Link:http://www.sixbranches.com/CAS05.htm


Perspective is the most like the way we actually see things.  Some people just naturally sketch using this method.  Most people need to work at it.  Perspective is not only three dimensional, it shows depth.  Additionally, if you look at a tall bookcase, note that you can see the bottom of the upper shelves while you see the tops of the lower shelves.  Link:  http://www.sixbranches.com/CAS06.htm


Thanks for sticking with me on this topic.  By this time you have decided that drawing and sketching is something that you should foster in your children, if not yourself.  So you begin to think about your children's traits and their drawing abilities, if not your own.  Where can art and drawing lead?  There are many career options that include art in them; there are only a few opportunities for art-based jobs.  Many people dream of being an artist.  The law of averages says that this will probably not pay off as a fruitful endeavor.  Real art-based jobs are graphic design, illustration, and drafting.  Drafting is more of a stepping-stone to design and engineering than a career unto itself today because of the use of CAD.  This brings us to the crux of this article.  Everyone needs to know how to draw.  Some people want to do it to enrich their lives, some people just want to have fun, and some people would like to do it to earn a living.


Is your child interested in computers, web design, drawing new car designs, or clothing?  Your child may be interested in learning more about graphic design, industrial design, or apparel design.  All of these use art in the concept phase and beyond.


Does your child have the uncanny ability to take things apart and put them back together (and have them still work), insist on drawing the inside of a car, draws house plan for fun, dream up wild inventions…  Your child probably has what a friend of mine calls "The Gene."  It is the gene that separates technical people from non-technical people.  There is no known cure, I am sure it would require a brain transplant.  If your child has "The Gene," you know it, even if you do not have it.  This type of child needs a way to learn the language of design and engineering.  That language is drafting.


I would encourage you to explore drawing or sketching in any of its forms with your children.  You may spark a life-long love in them or possibly a career path.  At the very least, you will have enriched their lives and maybe your own as well.  

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Home Schooling and Career Options

An article by Melvin G. Peterman


Originally Published in Home School Digest Volume 10 #3

As the public school system decays and crumbles, many of us are taking steps to educate our children by teaching them the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Today there are millions of children that are being taught at home and in private schools of all types. Most of these children are getting the best possible education available. Even the most relaxed home school situation offers a better education than the public schools could ever offer. I think that this is because God commands us to train our children – not the government. The book of Proverbs is full of verses that back this up. See Proverbs 1:7-8, 4:1, etc.

There seems to be only one major item missing from the home school / private school education agenda. Career options. This is one area where the public school system still seems to excel. With the deep pockets of the American taxpayer and corporate donations, public schools can afford to purchase computer systems, drafting software, machine tools, welders, wood working tools, build a body shop, etc. As you know, it is the rare private school or home school that can afford such large items for teaching a trade or career. The children do see what careers their parents and other family members are engaged in for a starting point. Most children wonder what it takes to do what their parent(s) do to earn a living or to take care of all the items that sustain a home. The parents are wondering how to impart all the experience to their children and help them prepare their children for the realities of adult living.

Like most children, I had chores to do around the house. Chores are a great way to demonstrate that there are many activities that support a family. Living in a rural community, I had friends that had real chores to do like changing sprinkler pipes, haying, feeding the animals and so on. When I was about 12, my father arranged with one of his co-workers that was an air conditioner installer that I would work with him as his personal “gopher” doing whatever he asked. I started doing this job for free in apprenticeship. My skills and knowledge increased as this man taught me his trade over the summer months and he started to pay me an hourly rate out of his own earnings. One thing led to another and I had further opportunities to earn income for my labor working for others. I started working with my father as he was estimating jobs that he was bidding on. When I went with him, I would draw the floor plans and write down the dimensions that my father would give me.

Later as a young adult, my father had his own heating and air conditioning company that I worked for. By this time I was in high school and working almost full time with my parents. One way I helped was to go to a job sight and get things well under way with little or no guidance.

My parents had trained me to be capable, persistent, and confident. In addition, they taught me that I had several career options. My father had more careers than most folks did and he talked about what was good and not so good about them. Though I am a product of the public school system from an educational standpoint, I am also the product of parents that trained me to adapt and excel. The career options that I have exercised have allowed me to comfortably support my wife and children without my wife working outside the home after we had children.

Career options need to be talked about, explored, and acted on. One method of training is apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are biblical and extremely practicable. Refer to the story of Moses & Joshua that spans Exodus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy. Jesus was a carpenter and one is assumes that Joseph trained Jesus in the trade (Mark 6:3). The education of your children is your responsibility and this part of the education is not any easier than the rest. Introduce them to as many career options as possible. Have them talk to your adult friends about their careers and get their input on the job market of the future. This is a time for prayer on the part of the children and the parents. A time to seek knowledge and guidance. Your children can have a ministry to those around them in any career capacity. Careers can be a life long pursuit or a method for broadening an educational base, to do something different in order to grow in other directions or to meet a different group of people.

My wife and I are attempting to educate our children to be independent business owners or contractors. We want them to start a business when they are young, or help us in our endeavors for it to be an inheritance when the time comes. Being self employed usually means you have to work harder and longer than anyone else. It would seem the only true reward is that you answer to only God, your customers, and yourself. It also allows you the freedom to make decisions and choices that you can not make when you work for others. Further, we are training our children to live simple lives and to pay for things as they go, to avoid debt, to save their money, and to purchase only what is required.

When our sons are done with high school they will probably be about 16. Far too young to go off to college, but not too young to start an apprenticeship while taking some courses at the community college level. Both our sons have goals and ambitions of what they would like to do for a living and we are helping them to learn what it takes to reach their goals. They can then choose an apprenticeship that will be of benefit to them in their chosen career before going on to college, if this is what their career requires. This apprenticeship satisfies many of my requirements as a parent. Working is good for the young mind and body. It earns money for continued education and outing events that can enrich young lives. It puts one to three years of time to good use while the young person matures and the solidification of goals occurs. It also allows them to spread their wings and step out on their own with the parents in support positions.

As the author and publisher of books that offer some career options and being in the business of selling my books and services, I have the opportunity to discuss career options with many parents. It seems about half of the parents know that their children have aptitudes and gifts in areas that they, the parents, do not. These parents begin to search for ways to help their children obtain what they require. The other half are fortunate enough that the child knows that they want to do what their parents do or have clearly defined career goals even at a young age. For the people in the first group there are few places to turn for career planning and a list of options. There are a few books out on helping you and your child narrow the field based on personality, interests, and the like. The bold truth is that ultimately the child looks to the parents and to God for guidance and the parents need to look to God for wisdom in these pursuits. Together the decision needs to be made so that time is not wasted o frivolous endeavors. Talk to your children and find out what types of activities stimulate the most conversation; discover where their interests lie. Make your way to locations where this activity occurs on field trips and family outings and talk to folks that do it. Go to the library and do research on the activity or do a search on the internet using the activity as a key search word. You will discover more information than you very possibly ever imagined was available. There are many jobs that are available for the learning. In our local paper, there are often jobs that will pay you to learn the job. These jobs include machinist, print press operator, framers, deck builders, etc. These are not glamorous positions, but the apprentice can learn a trade or skill and get paid for it.

Providing career options and training for our children is an important part of our responsibility to train our children in the way they should go. It is my hope that this information will challenge you or aid you as you prepare your children to be productive, God fearing adults.

Originally published in the Home School Digest Quarterly (Volume 10 Number 3).

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