Visual Thinking is a learning method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of  images and documented to have a cascading positive effect on both teachers and learners.

It presents a simple way for teachers and all kind of educators to provide learners with key competences: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.

Visual thinking is a great learning method that is already used as a curriculum in non-formal learning settings and in schools, involved in formal education.

Visual thinking provides a way to facilitate a learning process that encourages an in-depth thinking applicable in most subjects from poetry to math, science and social studies. Through visual thinking' rigorous group 'problem-solving' process, learners cultivate a willingness and ability to present their own ideas, while respecting and learning from the perspectives of their peers. Engaged by contributing observations and ideas, the learners participate in visual thinking lessons in ways they often don’t in others. 

Useful Resources for Learning How to Teach Visual Thinking

1. Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines, by Philip Yenawine.

The book by the cocreator of the VTS curriculum details his experiences teaching elementary school age students. The stories show how VTS can be easily integrated into the classroom with structured discussions of visual art. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1, "Permission To Wonder."

2. Cases on Teaching Critical Thinking through Visual Representation Strategies, by Leonard Shedletsky

This book compiles research from scholars and education professionals to provide more insight into student development through visual thinking.

Through Visual Thinking Strategies training and practice, teachers and trainers:

  • Use open-ended questioning and learner-centered facilitation techniques, including strategies for listening and paraphrasing, to create learner-driven and engaging group discussion environments.
  • Engage learners in discourse about a complex problem (carefully selected works of visual art) with an emphasis on providing evidence while considering and building off the contributions and perspectives of their peers.
  • Teach in a rigorously learner-centered, inquiry-based manner that both nurtures positive relationships with learners while encouraging students to be independent learners who think for themselves.