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Visual Thinking Strategies

How Visual Arts Dialogue Can Improve Critical Thinking Skills

Gwendolyn Landquist

on 24 August 2016

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Transcript of Visual Thinking Strategies

Visual Thinking Strategies
Education VS. Creativity
“My Contention is all kids have tremendous talents and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My Contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”
TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Ken Robinson, 2006
What is VTS?
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a teaching method that focuses on open-ended yet highly-structured discussions of visual art the outcome of which is a significant increase in students' critical thinking, language and literacy skills along the way.
Intro to VTS
Making the Case for VTS
“Visual thinking is the future of business problem solving. Using our innate ability to see—both with our eyes and our mind’s eye—gives us entirely new ways to discover hidden ideas, develop those ideas intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way they are simply going to ‘get.’”

The 10 1/2 Commandments of Visual Thinking:
The "Lost Chapter" from The Back of the Napkin
By Dan Roam
Published March 7, 2008
Cultivating Critical Thinking Skills & Promoting Creativity through Visual Arts Dialogue
The State of the Modern Educational System
Re-Thinking Modern Education
Current educational construct "educates," the creativity out of its students by making them afraid to be wrong.

Educational hierarchy in which Arts education is of the least value and the last priority of educators.

Institutional importance placed on subjects perceived to be the most relevant to post graduation employment.

Steering of student interests away from educational pursuits they enjoy (including the arts) in place of course work that fits with the institutions desired emphasis.
What's wrong with this picture?
Cause & Effect
The result of the current education construct that places less value on creativity and the arts:
- A decrease in diverse ways of thinking and
diverse ways of interpreting information.
= Decrease in creative problem solving

- An environment is created where ideas and opinions
aren't openly discussed for fear of being "wrong."
= Decrease in questioning & deductive reasoning

- A learning climate with importance placed on
output instead of input.
= Stagnant curriculum that doesn't fully develop students

- A societal stigma attached to visual intelligence
= Decrease in innovative
In VTS discussions, teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art.

Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions:

•What's going on in this picture?
•What do you see that makes you say that?
•What more can we find?
•Paraphrase comments neutrally
•Point at the area being discussed
•Linking and framing student comments
•Look carefully at works of art
•Talk about what they observe
•Back up their ideas with evidence
•Listen to and consider the views of others
•Discuss many possible interpretations
Method & Curriculum
VTS Facilitation Method 101
Facilitation Techniques:
Students are asked to:
"To build a society that is innovative, prosperous, and truly democratic we need to teach next generations not just facts and skills, but how to learn, how to communicate, and how to think creatively, critically, independently."
Philip Yenawine
VTS Co-Founder
VTS Guiding Principles
•VTS helps to navigate new situations through observation,
reasoning and respectful interaction.
•VTS strengthens critical thinking skills, as well as analytical
reasoning, problem solving abilities.
•VTS has been proven to boost test scores while stimulating
the desire to think and learn.
•VTS provides otherwise failing students a platform for success.
•VTS is effective because participants enjoy it.
'Sulfur V' By Marcela Bolivar

About The Artist: Marcela Bolívar is a digital artist and designer who since 2004 has focused on photo montage.
All her work is based on real photographs. These go through a heavy process of transformation, assemblage and detail that puts them closer to a pictorial expression.

Her images are a collection of memories and personal symbols trapped in solitary worlds where raw human nature talks through complex disguises.
VTS at Work
The Seattle Times | Local News

"UW uses artwork to help sharpen visual skills of future doctors"
By Kyung M. Song | Dec. 1, 2008

Visual Thinking Strategies, which uses art to teach critical thinking skills, is being taught for the first time to University of Washington medical students as well as family-medicine residents at Swedish Medical Center. The method uses paintings, photographs and other art to promote objective observations — and perhaps train doctors to be better diagnosticians.

Visual Thinking Strategies Information:
Helpful Links & Interesting Stuff
Jon Foster
Dixun Sun
Full transcript