Organising Elements for Visual Literacy SpellodromeHow is it beneficial to our children?

The term “Visual literacy” was coined in the late 1960s and can be defined as a person’s ability to interpret and discriminate the visible actions, objects and symbols (both natural or man-made) that they encounter.

When a child looks at the world, they need to make sense of what they see before them. From a very young age, children learn to distinguish various objects and to recognise unique characteristics. The identification and understanding of these objects directly relates to later development, with research and development theory both advocating that visual literacy skills provide a vital platform for verbal development, future speech and reading skills.

Visual literacy skills are necessary and important for children to learn- especially in today’s globally accessible, media and technology driven world.  With an increasing amount of imagery and technology available to our children, this skill is becoming more and more important.  Today’s extensive internet and media use means that visuals are frequently warped or misrepresented- meaning a higher degree of visual literacy needed to effectively translate our ever changing environment.

Every day our children are bombarded with imagery.  “Educated perception” of certain images (e.g. using a piece of artwork and discussing how certain techniques evoke specific emotions or effects) helps to teach children to be skeptical and informed viewers of all visual media, including advertising.  By ensuring our children are visually literate, we’re arming them with the life skill that assists them to make reasonable and intelligent sense of what they see around them- in every capacity.

Teaching visual literacy helps children more accurately interpret art and visual media that they come in contact with.  It also allows a deeper analysis of meaning and interaction with all ranges of imagery and text- which triggers the child to question a variety of factors they had not been aware of, pre-interaction.

“….the three R’s are no longer enough. Our world is changing fast – faster than we can keep up with our historical modes of thinking and communicating. Visual literacy – the ability to both read and write visual information; the ability to learn visually; to think and solve problems in the visual domain – will, as the information revolution evolves, become a requirement for success in business and in life.” ( Source )

Visual interpretation is fun, creative and engaging and is able to be incorporated into the classroom in a number of ways.

All people do not see or focus on the same things when looking at a visual image or object, but visual literacy can bring everyone to an informed understanding. Just as books are a primary research tool, so too are visual objects, when approached with an open, enquiring and analytical mind.

Embraced by the Australian National Curriculum

The Australian National Curriculum- English requires teachers to consider visual literacy and multi modal texts in their teaching of students aged 4-18. Put simply, the National Curriculum document states that students should be able to: understand how visual elements create meaning.In addition, visual knowledge is recognised as one of the four organising elements of literacy, as demonstrated in the National Curriculum in the following diagram.

Teachers, are you looking for ways to integrate visual literacy into your classroom?

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Visual Literacy Importance