In order to develop a unit on Architecture for my middle school students, it became apparent to me that the complex technical, visual and aesthetic skills of professional architects would be extremely difficult for my students to comprehend. Most of my students have very limited experiences in art. For this reason developing perceptual awareness can improve the child’s ability to handle visual information. Since the study of Architecture emphasizes the designing and constructing of buildings and other structures; this plan will stress the development of space perception in children.
Pertinent to the educational growth of children is the stimulation that they receive from their environment. When a child is deprived of valuable sensory experiences it can negatively influence their growth. Many factors may cause this lack in development. It is suggested that children who are deficient in understanding spatial relationships also have learning difficulties in other school subjects.1 In the modern urban environment many creative activities are neglected. In the classroom, activities that increase perceptual awareness need to be provided. Most theories of perception generally agree that, the young child perceives simple wholes initially, and as the child develops he/she perceives the details within the whole. The child can be taught through training in observation and doing to increase his/her perceptual discrimination. This process is also influenced by the child’s cultural environment, which is the total of economic conditions, child rearing practices, social interaction, religious beliefs and peer influence which affects each child differently.
This unit is being organized to be presented to sixth through eighth graders with generally limited visual literacy. My sixth graders are scheduled for art one forty-five minute period per week. This demands that the Architecture activity be compressed and simplified. Seventh and eighth graders meet four forty-five minute periods per week for one marking period of ten weeks. For seventh and eighth graders this unit will be utilized three to four weeks dependent upon the ability grouping of the students.