Visual Literacy For Better Learning

With “about two-thirds of adults showing visual preferences for learning,” (Hamilton, Boni. Integrating Technology in the Classroom: Tools to Meet the Need of Every Student. International Society for Technology in Education) and media in all its forms playing a larger role in our daily lives, our need for visual literacy is ever increasing.  This need naturally affects school-systems, which often have other demands to balance, such as American schools limiting the major part of instruction to basic skills in reading, writing, and math in order to “teach to the test” for No Child Left Behind legislative requirements.  “Teaching to the test” often involves more traditional teaching techniques and ignores subjects such as art and history that aren’t tested.  Ironically, aspects of art and history instruction are high on the visual literacy spectrum and could actually be utilized in the instruction of the subjects that are tested.

The process of teaching with visual literacy techniques aids student understanding for a variety of reasons, including stimulating the learning process, and offering clear evidence of learning in the assessment process. (Begoray, Deborah L. Through a Class Darkly: Visual Literacy in the Classroom. University of Victoria) The proven need for visual literacy and the limitations of existing school curriculum supporting its development leaves much of the responsibility to the teachers themselves to model and to inform visual literacy in their classrooms to enhance students’ learning within curriculum requirements.  By modeling visual literacy, teachers make a point to design their classrooms and utilize instruments in their teaching that require and stimulate the viewing and representing process from their students.  Classroom design and well-chosen tools can be utilized to better teach subjects that are required by the state-mandated curriculum, while simultaneously helping their students become more visually literate.  If well modeled, students will learn how to utilize their teacher’s techniques at home and throughout their futures to enhance their ability to learn and understand.