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Picture thinking, The development of visual literacy in young children. Kate Noble,Looking at art invites rewards and encourages. a thoughtful disposition because works of art,demand thoughtful attention to discover what. they have to show and say 1, In this article I explore the concept of visual literacy as. a thoughtful disposition as Perkins describes above. and discuss the collaborative and creative process of. looking at art with young children There is no fixed. definition of the term visual literacy and this may be. because it means different things within different. contexts It would be impossible to be visually literate. in every domain the visual literacy of a craftsperson. differs to that of an architect a huntsman or a,computer programmer 2 My PhD focused on the. development of visual literacy in young children and. since completing my research in 2007 I have furthered. my understanding of what this means in practice, through working as a gallery educator Here I discuss. the different dimensions of visual literacy describe my. research into how it develops in young children and. then look at how this might be applied within a,museum or gallery context. Communicative Decoding images and artworks to interpret and understand. Aesthetic Responding to the affective dimension of visual experience. Artistic Constructing personal visual responses and meanings. Figure 1 Three dimensions of visual literacy, What is visual literacy dangerous simplification Arnheim reminds us. Boughton3 identifies three aspects to visual literacy that Art fulfills other functions which are often. as described in Figure 1 considered primary It creates beauty perfection. harmony order It makes things visible that are, In common with traditional notions of verbal literacy. invisible or inaccessible or born of fantasy It gives vent. visual literacy encompasses more than one level of. to pleasure or discontent 6 This plea for the primary. skill 4 At its most basic level visual literacy can be. functions of art brings us closer to aesthetic visual. understood as the ability to decode visual images,literacy which is concerned with the affective. to pick out and identify the essential points that. dimension of visual experience 7 One important,contain meaning This is referred to by Boughton. feature of the aesthetic account is that it can be used. as communicative visual literacy 5 To achieve an, to claim back the idiosyncrasies of visual media from. understanding the viewer must make sense of what, a communicative account which allies the visual so. they see This requires the ability to decode symbols. closely with the verbal In a museum or gallery,lines and shapes to infer to deduce and to make. context an educator might ask a group to draw upon. connections and associations There are clear links. personal experience and to build deeper layers of,here with approaches used to decode verbal texts. understanding by asking Does it remind you of,Within a museum or gallery context an educator. anything They might invite them to step through, might ask a group looking at an artwork to describe. the frame to discover what they can see hear touch. what they see and then begin to unpick the different. and smell In so doing they begin to move towards,visual elements such as scale colour line form. the aesthetic dimension of visual literacy,context and materials. This links back to Perkins statement at the start of. However describing visual literacy solely as the, this article about looking at art and developing a. ability to decode and interpret artworks is a,42 engage 38 Picture thinking. thoughtful disposition There is an important experience demands a response true to its original. connection here between aesthetic experience and form 13 14 Within a museum or gallery context an. general cognitive functioning Arnheim argues that artistic response can take many different forms. in order to be touched by a work of art visual For example a group might be given the. thinking must be used Aesthetic beauty is the opportunity to respond visually through drawing. isomorphic correspondence between what is said or gesture perhaps using their fingers to trace the. and how it is said 8 Winner makes a similar point outline of a figure a pencil to describe the flowing. when she describes how the sensual pleasure found contours of a mountain or respond to colour and. within a work of art is intricately linked to the active mood through the medium of dance or drama. stance required by the viewer and the cognitive,Researching the development. demands it makes 9 Dewey also explores this What,of visual literacy. is intimated to my mind is that in both production. My doctoral research explored how visual literacy,and enjoyed perception of works of art knowledge. develops in young children by looking at the ways,is transformed it becomes something more than. in which 24 young children aged five seven and,knowledge because it is merged with non. nine made sense of sophisticated picture books,intellectual elements to form an experience. through talk gesture and drawing 15 The,worthwhile as an experience 10. theoretical framework was provided by Vygotsky, These definitions of the aesthetic emphasise the who proposed that development is best evidenced. affective appeal of the visual and the enjoyment of by looking at process in order to build a picture of. active engagement Yet they also locate the viewer changes within the individual 16 17 The decision to. as an active participant within the process of making work with children grouped in the ages of five. meaning which brings us to the third dimension of seven and nine was taken in order to compare. visual literacy differences on either side of seven years which is. recognised as a crucial year in the artistic, Making your own visual productions is described by. development of the young child 18 19 20 21, Boughton as artistic visual literacy 11 In her detailed. Vygotskian perspectives describe the use of,review of issues and debates surrounding the term. external semiotic activity such as talk drawing and. Raney states Visual literacy is not simply to do with. gesture as powerful tools of thought The actions,passively receiving the visual world which flows. of the child create a link between perception and,around us we also make our own representations. cognition and this process is rooted within a,produce our own visual meanings 12 Her statement. specific socio cultural context I used case studies. resonates with the social constructivist emphasis on. to allow for the individual voices and perspectives. the active role of both viewer and maker A visual, of the participants to be heard and used video Case study 1 Visual literacy in action and the. cameras to record the many aspects of the young artist in control. children s responses The lack of previous research. Jessel aged nine was one of the most visually,in this area meant that the study was exploratory. literate children I worked with during my research. and deductive in nature The analysis was, study He was both a critical and reflective reader of. grounded in the data itself allowing details and, visual images and a critical and reflective artist He. patterns to emerge through meticulous and careful, saw drawing as an extremely serious enterprise and. review and study These patterns were then,when I asked what made a good artist he replied. compared to existing developmental models and, instantly Time skill and practice In his interviews. schemes taken from research into artistic and,he demonstrated an impressive knowledge of visual. aesthetic development 22 23 24 25 26 27 n1,images from a wide range of different sources. Development in visual literacy was found to be which he employed whilst interpreting visual images. closely tied to meta cognition the processes by and creating sophisticated drawings of his own. which the individual learns to control and regulate. As we looked at the illustrations in the picture, their thinking Visual thinking was indivisible from. books Jessel admired the artist s skill repeatedly. other kinds of thinking As they looked talked and,saying I like the way she has done the He. drew the children questioned made deductions, noticed visual devices such as the artist s use of light. inferences comparisons planned and monitored,and colour He s made them look really like how. their own drawings and imagined and experienced, they should be so like the sun s coming going down. exhilarating new textual worlds By recording verbal. there and you can see it just coming through the,physical and graphic responses they had. trees there His comments indicated a keen,opportunities to express their thinking in many. sensitivity to the challenges faced by an artist,different ways The older children were more aware. when depicting reality in two dimensions and,of their own cognitive processes and so were. demonstrated meta cognitive awareness of the,increasingly able to control and regulate their. processes involved in making pictures Taken in, thinking This control manifested itself in different. the context of Jessel s own self awareness whilst,ways through the dual tasks of interpretation and. drawing they also indicate another clear link,production but was particularly evident when the. between communicative aesthetic and artistic,children made their own drawings Young children s. dimensions of visual literacy,personal and aesthetic preferences interests and. motivations were found to impact upon their In addition to the sophisticated comments Jessel. meaning making at every point made whilst reading the picture books his drawings. 44 engage 38 Picture thinking, it in her right The detail from his practice sheet. image 3 demonstrates some of the visual problem, solving he went through to find the right solution. He drew the hand from different directions and at, different angles to try and visualise what it would. look like Jessel s awareness of his own artistic,skill is enhanced by his desire to expand his. personal drawing repertoire His responses,indicated a confident self aware and visually. literate young artist, In my final interview with Jessel he designed his own. also demonstrated a high level of visual literacy illustration for the story of the Frog Prince image 4. and self awareness as he carefully planned and He filled the whole picture space with colour and. controlled every element of his drawing as he attempted to emulate the shading on the trees. worked As he drew he talked at length about his which he had admired whilst reading The Frog. personal repertoire things he liked to draw and Prince Continued by Jon Sciescka and Lane Smith. things he was particularly good at His drawings The Frog Prince is shown moving through time over. revealed his talents as an artist with an acute the pond with a series of splashes which Jessel. attention to detail and highly developed personal explained. style and repertoire In the third interview Jessel. It s just like when you try to make something look. chose to draw the princess eating from her plate,like its moving mimes an arc through the air with. under the watchful eye of the slimy frog image 2,his arm over you like do lots of them mimes arcs. When I asked him why he had chosen to draw that,with hand across body sort of like a jump so. part of the story he replied Because I thought I m. what s happened there is there s this frog sitting. good at worried faces cos I normally draw people, here points and he s dived in the pond just to get. like with swords and putting them up to people s, the ball got the ball back slips out of his hand flies. throats and they are like pulls a worried face, over hits this frog on the head and the princess is. carries on drawing,going to be there points And then his friend. During the interviews he spoke with confidence goes I ll get it and it slips out of his hand bangs. about the process of drawing He had difficulties him on the head he s unhappy you can t see his. drawing the princess s right hand holding the fork unhappy face anymore I ve got to add it makes a. I normally do it with the left hand but she s holding correction and he has headed it all the way over. and ones a sad conversation one s not going to,be good not going to give it back not gonna give. it back and the other one the other one s gonna,say um Where did you get your where did you. get you dress from princess and she s gonna go,Matalan 29 pound fake dress He s saying well. this is a female frog going Where did you get your. dress from princess and she s going to go with,that side which is her happy side and she s got a. happy eye and a shocked eye on this side of her, face so she s having a sad conversation and a good. conversation And she goes 25 pounds for a fake,dress and the female frog goes Bargain. and the frog s gonna be here grabbing the ball so, he s not giving it back Jessel has transformed the original narrative and. created new imaginative possibilities connections, This extract reveals how the story of The Frog Prince. and contexts His passion for and enjoyment of,underwent a process of transformation as Jessel.