At the most fundamental level, all this discussion and readings about the lack of benefits of more “traditional” ways of schooling that involved reading and then writing about the text, has made me question the very essence of my schooling and how I now teach my students. The article in New Horizons for Learning, entitled “Visual Literacy and the Classroom”, captures the relevancy of our need as teachers to move away from traditional modes of teaching and/or somehow incorporate more lessons on visual literacy.
I found the following quotes from the article compelling:
(1) “Currently, in high schools across the country, many students are expected to present complex visual ideas using a variety of multimedia applications without serious direct instruction.”
(2) “As we move to an increasingly visually-dominated culture (Kress, 1998), where students are expected to code and decode complex messages in a variety of media, shouldn’t literacy instruction include visual media as well?”
(3) “Kress has demonstrated a shift in science textbooks revealing the switch from visuals that support text explanations to text that supports visual explanations. Kress argues that graphics hold more meaning and are central to the meaning of modern texts and meaning-making systems.”
For the first one, I’ve had firsthand experience dealing with this … I’ve tried to model what I expect from my students when I ask them to give me a presentation that requires some visual … but I’ve noticed that for other teachers in the high school, either it is just assumed that they know how to put together an appealing presentation already or they don’t put too much emphasis on the final product.
The second quote above makes me ask a follow-up question: who should be “responsible” for teaching visual/media literacy? each core subject teacher? or have a separate media/visual literacy class? As for core subject teachers taking this on, I get the feeling that many are not trained to that or they are not sure how to conduct such a lesson … thus, leaving students out in the cold, so to speak.
I really like the third quote above because for me visuals carry more meaning but in a different way. I’m not clear exactly how they work out for me in terms of meaning-making, but I do know that it is more interesting to take a few visuals or pictures and then ask students to talk and write about the photos/visuals. I find this much more engaging because I’m a very visual person and art/photos/movies have always captured my attention more than listening. However, I do find more meaning–more deeper meaning and understanding–when I read longer texts or hear a longer lecture such as a TED talk.