Education and Visual Literacy

Twenty–first century students need to be able to read the world through the process of vision. To do this, they need to know the alphabet, vocabulary and grammar of seeing.

Young people are consuming images at an extraordinary rate. It's imperative that they learn how to read images—that sensory literacy joins textual and computer literacy as part of the core curriculum.

Nearly 30% of the brain's cortex is devoted to visual processing—more than the other human senses. The optic nerve has over a million nerve fibers. Ninety percent of all the information we take in from the world we take in visually.

With so much of the brain's cortex devoted to visual processing, it is logical that visual literacy is the key sensory literacy. 

We are gaining a new understanding of the human senses, due in part to the current digital revolution and advancements in the study of brain science.

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Visual literacy is the ability to construct meaning from images. It’s not a skill. It uses skills as a toolbox. It’s a form of critical thinking that enhances your intellectual capacity.
— Brian Kennedy

Teacher Resources

The Toledo Museum of Art recognizes the need for a visual literacy curriculum—not just in art education but across all curriculum—and provides a variety of resources for educators.

Elementary

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades K-5)

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades K-5)

Art of Seeing Art: Varujan Boghosian (Grades 4-5)

Art of Seeing Art: Varujan Boghosian (Grades 4-5)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades K-3)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades K-3)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 4-5)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 4-5)

Middle School

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades 6-8)

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades 6-8)

Art of Seeing Art: Varujan Boghosian (Grades 6-8)

Art of Seeing Art: Varujan Boghosian (Grades 6-8)

The War of 1812: Battle of Lake Erie (Grades 6-8)

The War of 1812: Battle of Lake Erie (Grades 6-8)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 6-8)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 6-8)

High School

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades 9-12)

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Grades 9-12)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 9-12)

Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints (Grades 9-12)

 

Additional Resources

Family Guides

My Journey to Japan

My Journey to Japan

Color, Line and Shape in Aboriginal Art

Color, Line and Shape in Aboriginal Art

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski

Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons

Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons

The Art of Seeing Art