Learning to Look


People learn more than half of what they know from visual information. We are excited that Mountain River school has a weekly program in place  to teach children how to develop visual literacy. Often. the work viewed has interdisciplinary  connections that intertwine with Mountain River School’s project based learning.

In his 1997 article ,Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as: “…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and effective aspects of knowing are equally important.”

Students develop their visual thinking skills by participating in group discussions based on works of art. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) begins by asking three questions of  students: What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?.

“VTS is a way to facilitate discussions of works of art that develops a set of thinking skills and behaviors that transfer to oral, written, and cognitive skills in other fields. It builds on evidence-based reasoning to examine aesthetic work.”( https://vtshome.org/)

Having the opportunity each week to discuss works of art with children is a pure pleasure, they have opened my eyes to their multiple perspectives and I am amazed at the depth of discussions due to the improvements in their development of their visual literacy skills.

Mountain River School