Sunday, December 13, 2009

Visual Literacy: A Basic Skill for General Education

Visual Literacy is a basic skill that should be part of the general education requirements of all students from Kindergarten through college. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Along with written communication, oral communication and quantitative literacy, students should have instruction in visual literacy every year.

For a basic introduction to visual literacy see Visual Literacy: Learn to see, see to learn (left) by Lynell Burmark published by the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).

For a college level version of visual literacy check out books like Envisioning Information (right) by Edward Tufte.

Burmark says, "The primary literacy of the 21st century will be visual: pictures, graphics, images of every kind. Engineering, architecture, computer trades, health care professions, even jobs as pedestrian as cooking fries at McDonald's (now done with sophisticated robotics) all require visual literacy. It's no longer enough to read and write. Our students must learn to process both words and pictures. They must be able to move gracefully and fluently between text and images, between literal and figurative worlds.

How does this impact education? How can we prepare students for a life where the primary vehicle for communication and commerce -- the Internet -- is based on a graphical interface? a medium where a business' value is determined by the quality of its visual representation?"

1 comment:

Frank said...

Marty, I have created a visual literacy section on my Media Literacy Clearinghouse web site @
I would love for you to review it.