Part of the fun element in GALS is the development of visual creativity through drawing and diagrams as a liberating experience. What is required in GALS are not fine art paintings, but simple symbolic representations. Individual drawing can be both liberating and confidence-building. Collective drawing can be great fun and very useful in team-building. Within about 10 minutes, left alone with friends to gain confidence, most people will be happily drawing, even if they have never held a pen before or say they cannot draw. The facilitator should not touch the marker – participants should do all drawings themselves in order to develop skills and increase confidence and ownership.
Drawing is not just ‘pretty pictures for illiterates’, but a way of clarifying and communicating very complex concepts.
- a liberating activity: freeing thought from long wordy definitions and clarifying underlying assumptions and differences in understanding of complex concepts like empowerment, gender, wealth creation and leadership. Scientific research has shown that drawing uses a different part of the brain from normal linear thought, and promotes intelligence, creativity and even seems to counter some of the effects of dementia.
- a fun collective activity – bringing people from very different backgrounds together to explore ideas and clarify concepts, identify differences and reach some sort of consensus. The outputs can be extremely attractive murals and meaningful decoration in meeting places and workshops as a form of collective memory or training aid.
- an effective tool for learning, remembering and inspiring action. For that reason mind mapping and sketch-noting are an important part of modern higher education.
- a good way of promoting mutual understanding and respect between people with different levels of education – people who cannot read and write are often better at drawing concepts than those with higher levels of education. Drawing also reduces the need for translation in multilingual contexts.
- a very powerful communication of ideas and images for gender change – it is very difficult for donors and policy makers to dismiss graphic pictures of dreams and also constraints like violence drawn by women and men in poor communities as ‘feminist imperialism’.
The aim is not ‘correct pictures’ but sophisticated analysis of complex issues and identification of realisable change strategies. Participants create their own pictorial manuals and notes – not only reducing costs, but also making it more likely they will remember and implement what they have learned. Using drawings means that people who cannot read and write, as well as embattled CEOs of global companies and government officials, are able to put their experience and ideas on paper and communicate clearly to each other.