Michael Parsons reviewed the history of theories of artistic development and concluded that the linear models of Piaget and Lowenfeld cannot be defended in postmodern contexts. In its stead, he argued Parsons' change in children's art resembled a tree with many branches rather than a single path of growth, which was shaped by western, modern goals based upon a realistic depiction of the world. "Endpoint, Repertoires and Toolboxes. Development in Art as the Acquisitions of Tools." Tools were used as a metaphor for the diversity of conditions that influenced change in child art.
In Art and Cognition Arthur Efland, like many of his colleagues, was concerned about the acquisition of knowledge and the multiple ways of gaining artistic comprehension. Cognition and inquiry were both major concerns in the 1950's. In the case of cognitive theory, the impetus came from Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder, psychologists who worked outside the the art education establishment, and Arthur Efland and Elliot Eisner who wrote from within the field.
Norway sponsored the only International Child Art Foundation museum. It was located in Oslo and founded by a Soviet immigrant filmmaker. In David H. Feldman's Beyond The Universals in Cognitive Development, Feldman, a developmental psychologist, saw developmental stages as levels of achievement within particular areas rather than universal terms. The four basic assumptions of his field were universal achievement, spontaneous acquisitions, invariant sequence and the ways in which early stages are incorporated into later ones. Feldman's four non-universal domains were discipline based, idiosyncratic, cultural and unique achievements of special interest to art educators in his research was the nature of prodigies in particular domains such as art. Norman H. Freeman in his Strategies of Representation in Young Children: Analysis of Spatial Skills and Drawing Processes was interested in the processes rather than the products of drawing and disagrees with both Piaget and Arnheim's treatment of this issue. He described some basic ideas regarding children drawing. Children do not expect to make realistic drawings and prefer cartooning which is not expected to be realistic. They tend towards drawings that give the most information with least detail. They also draw objects which are perpendicular to the base line, have their own rules regarding the creation of forms, Freeman also described five major drawing systems all with different degrees of complexity. A Russian archeologist discovered birch bark fragments with drawings which date from 1224. They were drawn by six or seven year old Onfim. The drawings were of animals and people and included written information. The second oldest example of early drawings were in the margins of the Latin School of EDAM in the Netherlands and could be formed in the Royal library.
In The Child's Conception of Space by Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder, the authors investigated the development of drawing as a sense of perception engaging ability to think and to use the imagination. The authors concluded that there are three stages of development, sensorimotor (birth to age two), the stage of concrete application (two to 11 years) and the stage of formal operations (11 to 15 years). In drawing, the stages proposed were synthetic incapacity (to 3 years) intellectual realism (4 to 7) and visual realism (8 or 9 years on).
The FCAE (The Federated Council on Art Education) was founded to improve communication among various kinds of art organizations (schools, universities, museums, etc.). Jean Piaget's The Language and Thought of the Child emerged as the most insightful psychological study of the decade. He recorded conversations and monologues about the children ages three through seven, made during drawing sessions. He concluded that drawing objects was not a visual experience as much as it is an intellectual one.