Embrace the Space

Go ahead and insert your favorite Star Wars & George Lucas reference here. 


In all seriousness though, the master cinematographer George Lucas nailed it when discussing the importance of Visual Literacy in Education.  This Edutopia article titled, “Life on the Screen”  illustrates the importance of teaching the fundamentals of visual literacy and giving it equal weight to other aspects of the curriculum.  Lucas even provides a transdisciplinary perspective as advice for implementation in today’s classrooms.

“We need to look at the whole world of communication in a more complete way. We need to take art and music out of “the arts class” and put it into the English class. ”  

Emphasis on this type of implementation is huge for our critical thinking skills and understanding of how our minds operate. Teaching Visual Literacy helps us enhance our intellect by constructing meaning from images.

It should be evident to teachers that we learn best through symbolic imagery and it’s quite simple when you look at the macro historical side of it. Human beings have been equipped to make sense of symbols for far longer than they’ve had written text. Visuals are a universal language. They are also conceptually driven in a sense that they can help us chunk and categorize large amounts information changing the way we think and perceive the world.

Professor Mriganka Sur, of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, stated that

“half of the human brain is devoted directly or indirectly to
vision, understanding the process of vision provides clues to 
understanding fundamental operations in the brain,” 

Visual Literacy in Early Childhood

As a Kindergarten teacher, I understand the importance of visuals.
Visual Literacy is everything for my students. It’s the first type of literacy they acquire. Therefore it’s not surprising to hear that Preschool students know all about brands.  In the same way that our youngest students understand sign language before the printed word, images, specifically brand images, are designed to provoke and stimulate the senses.

McDonalds and Coca-Cola know this.  It’s time for teachers to harness this power, not to make our students consumers but to develop a hyperawareness of the power of combing symbols and senses and connecting cognition to memory. 

“ if you stick a McDonald’s label on carrots, kids will tell you that they taste better.”

Brand Awareness Image from http://ravishingpromotions.com.au/


 The Hyperawareness of Simplicity 

Less is More. Apple mastered this and now the rest of the world has caught on.  The way of the web is now all about embracing sleek, simple, clean and responsive designs. Space & brevity = better.  Remember this commercial?

The article, ” Lazy Eyes, How we read online” makes mention to how our brains are wired to filter information. This, like our appreciation of symbols, it’s something that has also been ingrained into our DNA.  This Slate article helped me understand a few of the “brain hacks” that showcase how readers skim,  decipher, and process information on the web.

As Informavores, a term coined by  Jakob Nielsen, it’s important for us to learn to become aware of these brain hacks. There is simply too much data out there for us to consume daily.  Learning the difference between what to leave in and what to leave out is not only beneficially to us as a species it’s also beneficial to us as a society.

Lately, I’ve been consciously thinking a lot about space, brevity, and simplifying, when I write emails and make presentations for my colleagues.

Here’s are some screenshots of a Google Site that I’ve created for our Primary School staff.  The site is designed to be a digital ecosystem that houses all of our “tech-knowledge” at UWCT.  It’s still a work in progress and has yet to go live, but I spent a lot of time thinking about the aesthetics, user-friendliness, and overall appeal.


Furthermore, my own personal blog, outside of my COETAIL one, is also very visual. Here is a snippet of that site.

Here you can see that I’m going for that same appeal, brand awareness with the logo (or symbol), and a simple not too stimulating layout with images that provoke.  I’ve tried to do that as much as I can with this COETAIL blog by aligning it to the same philosophy of  “less is more” and by remembering to embrace the space.

Final Wonderings?

How do you teach Visual Literacy?

Do you believe that it is transdisciplinary?

How has it changed the way your live / work?

How does this mindset place a role in your life?


Photo credit: The Great Andromeda galaxy,  by my friend Anh P.A. Ho.