Continuing Visual Literacy

I wanted to continue from an earlier post on Visual Literacy since the Issue Brief is fast approaching and visual literacy is a key component to my argument as to why the arts, music and art, are so important to have in the education system today. It needs to stop being cut because its so important!



For years the definition of visual literacy remained an uncertainty, until now. As more research was implemented and discussed, a solid definition of what visual literacy is and what it entails arose from the American Library Association. The Association defines visual literacy as “a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.” This definition found on the ARCL website clears up any uncertainties regarding visual literacy and goes on to explain how people are considered “visually literate” and how students and teachers alike within higher education should be implementing visual literacy into their lives, education and curriculum. They go on to further stress its importance, “Scholarly work with images requires research, interpretation, analysis, and evaluation skills specific to visual materials. These abilities cannot be taken for granted and need to be taught, supported, and integrated into the curriculum” (American Library Association). The image has become a prominent aspect to learning and interacting in daily routines, however it has grown into a way to understand other cultures and other viewpoints.

The greatest misconception is that visual literacy was primarily set for the art classroom, while that is not a wrong assumption, it is not taking into account all of the uses of visual literacy in this ever growing world which we inhabit. Both teachers and students can find ample support from its various uses as they use visual aids both inside and outside the classroom. Susan Britsch, author of the article “Visual Language and Science Understanding: A Brief Tutorial for Teachers” further stresses why it is of utmost importance that this be implemented in all classroom and not just the art studio, “If teachers understand how to read visual compositions in an informed way, they can see how these function as part of the child’s construction process. This knowledge and an understanding of literacy enable the teacher to offer new possibilities and new tools, broadening the context that the child brings to the experience.” This quote at the conclusion of her article ties perfectly into the Seven Standards of Visual Literacy; if teachers and students embrace the use of this concept they can gain a deeper understanding of visuals and the critical thinking associated with it.

The Association’s Seven Standards of Visual Literacy provide a few in depth examples of how visual literacy is used in both the classroom as well as everyday routines. The Standards begin with the ability to articulate a need for an images, “The visually literate student defines and articulates the need for an image” and elaborate further in mentioning that the student should also be able to research, locate, and cite from images that may prove useful to them in whichever project or analysis they are involved in. This shows that the student is aware of the wide array of images sources and is cognizant of the scopes of meanings behind those images also; whether it is cultural, social, political, or historical contexts, visual aids can have more uses than just advertising. The third Standard does mention that a visually literate student learns how to analyze images based on the technical and design components within a particular image, which presents aspects that seem more necessary to artists, however, being able to decide on and further discuss the motivations behind why something is placed or colored the way it is proves very effective in learning successful evaluation and interpretation based on further research. The last Standard involving analyzing images is Standard Four. Being able to notice the design elements of a visual image allows for discussion on aesthetic aspects. This allows for students to learn motivations of artists, why was this placed here, why is their text accompanying this, what purpose are they trying to convey or accomplish here? These are simply a few questions that can arise in a discussion of a visual aid, and these deeper meaning questions enhance critical thinking skills, analysis, and interpretation skills as well. As the Standards illustrate, the realm of visual literacy involves more than just observation of artistic mediums, it encompasses the abilities to analyze, discover, research, and utilize visual images to support projects or ideas the student or instructor may be presenting to a larger audience.

The role of visual studies has expanded into a broader spectrum, forcing people to notice visual literacy more than ever and use it. Brian Kennedy narrates a short video What is Visual Literacy? , that elaborates on how visual literacy works and how humans become visually literate. He notes that our world is growing increasingly “visually saturated”; meaning that images are all around, spanning from classical artworks to stop signs. Kennedy presents the differences between visual literacy and all the other literacy categories by describing the history of visual literacy and by providing the definition of it as the process of sending or receiving messages primarily through images (something skillfully utilized in the video itself). Kennedy is emphasizes that visual literacy is a form of critical thinking and not a skill, our sense of sight is one of the most important senses we have as humans and it is an integral part in our education, learning, and daily living processes.

My sources if you wish to continue researching what I hinted at here.

“ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” ACRL: Association of College and Research Libraries. American Library Association. Oct. 2011. Web. Feb. 19. 2015.

Britsch, Susan. “Visual Language and Science Understanding : A Brief Tutorial for Teachers.”     Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 36.1 (2013): 17-27. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.            +a+brief+tutorial+for…-a0318107066

Kennedy, Brian. What is Visual Literacy? Toledo Museum of Art. 12 February 2015. Video.


Education Deliberation Review

The Sunday deliberation I attended was on the topic of education, specifically the learning objectives within the modern classroom. This topic interested me immensely because I have been discussing education, its organization, and literacy in general in my other honors English and tutoring dual credit class. I was very curious on the sides the group would take and what the audience would offer experience and solution wise to the three “pillars”. The group was phenomenally organized and researched their three pillars of education thoroughly. They cited numerous sources within each mini group presentation which solidified their ethos/credibility. The group event guide was concise and well-organized, providing some background to each point, bulleted focus on the main ideas or arguments of that point, and three “framing” questions that they used to springboard into conversation. It was extremely easy to follow and reference during the discussion especially as an outside person attending.

The event itself was very well organized and everyone was prepared with their presentation. The ground rules were clearly stated and the audience was given ample enough time to each describe our personal stake in the issue. They had a lot of outside people join in their event; it was really cool to see non RCL students get involved and to hear the opinions of numerous other students from other majors. I also enjoyed the different views and opinions that everyone brought into the discussion, especially as conversation picked up on specific issues. Everyone seemed comfortable within the Commonplace, and the group members were open to all opinions and points that everyone offered or elaborated upon. The groups also had extra questions prepared in case we used up the original three they had set, and on a few occasions let discussion go further as opposed to asking another question right away to keep the awesome conversation points going when a point of interest seemed to be hit. I thought that was a really good way to keep the conversation flow and make sure everyone got the chance to express their opinions on each point if they wanted. No one grandstanded or emphasized a specific point like the infamous Jim we heard about who attended other deliberation events, and I felt the conversation was very informative, beneficial, and there were never any awkward silences or pauses, and the group kept track of time efficiently.

All three points they offered were pivotal aspects to education today and provide aspects that affect all of us and we are invested in it some way or another. It may affect us all differently but standardized testing, critical thinking, and social and civic development are points that have numerous positives and negatives to them in our current system. The group seemed to express some of the same opinions on the matters and offered some cool ways to maybe improve the current system which has many flaws. The standardized test set was a particular point that brought many opinions and insights and many people, me included, seem to dislike judging people based on timed tests. It was noted, especially when people learn how to teach the test specifically, and how to skip long questions and how to take the test, which hinders learning in many ways, especially deeper critical thinking. I did not think a full consensus was reached on any issue, but it definitely opened many people’s eyes to how the system currently works and how others feel about it because of various experiences. The group did believe however that critical thinking is important and should be implemented earlier in schools so students have more chances to learn and become acquainted with some of those skills. I definitely learned a lot about the current education system that classes do not seem to discuss much, and I really enjoyed hearing everything that everyone had to say, definitely broadened my perspectives and knowledge on the issue of education.

Visual Literacy! More Important than you think….

As an artist, learning stuff by seeing it really helps me, and as I’ve come to learn in my English class discussions that visual literacy is becoming more mainstream. Our world is becoming a media filled place and therefore we need to become visually literate to be able to read, interpret, understand, and use visual images in our lives to express, teach, or support our ideas. So I’m going to provide some info on the broad field of visual literacy, and some interesting sources providing further information if you are interested!


This page from the website of the American Library Association presents a detailed coverage of visual literacy. In the first sections it provides a thorough definition of what visual literacy is and what its uses are in our society today “a visual culture”. This definition can clear up any uncertainties regarding visual literacy, its purposes, and how it is being utilized in both the workforce and classroom. The website contributors also seem to focus on visual literacy in regards to higher education and provide a list of how they feel a “visually literate” person in higher education should be able to use their understanding of visual literacy to research, analyze, and effectively implement images and other visual aids into their presentations. The page further stresses the Seven Standards of Visual Literacy, and all seven standards are specifically outlined and described in the later portion of the website. These standards are especially helpful if someone wishes to learn about the specific aspects to visual literacy since it is such a broad field, and this page is perfect if one would want the specifics on how visual literacy is used by teachers. The contributors have presented an extensive and easy to understand outline of the standards that appears to be an integral part of this source; it describes how visual aids should be used, researched, implemented, and described as well as covering the ethical and cultural differences that may come into play when using visual aids or images of any kind.


Brian Kennedy narrates this short video on how visual literacy works and how humans become visually literate. He stresses that our world is becoming “visually saturated”, meaning that images are all around, spanning from classical artworks to stop signs. This video and narration effectively describes visual literacy as a concept and emphasizes that people need to not only become better readers, but they must also improve in successfully reading images around them. By describing the history of visual literacy and the simple definition of it being the process of sending or receiving messages primarily through images, Kennedy Illustrates the differences between visual literacy and all the other literacy categories quite simply. Kennedy is also the first person to point out, through this video, that visual literacy is a form of critical thinking and not a skill. He further argues that visual literacy is quite an overshadowed topic compared to computer and sensory literacy, but that visual literacy is an extremely critical aspect to classroom learning than most give it credit for. This is a wonderful source for anyone in need of a history of visual literacy or an argument for the support of visual literacy. Kennedy argues that visual literacy is the most important literacy, and it must be taught, because our strongest sense is vision and we rely on our vision and interpreting images every day, that is visual literacy.>.

This Chapter on Visual Literacy comes from Frank Baker’s book Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom. Chapter 3 starts out by defining visual literacy as the ability to understand and read images. Baker then presents several examples of images all throughout history (such as “Migrant Mother”) that cover aspects of visual literacy and the various ways these images can be read or interpreted by all sorts of people. Visual literacy used to be primarily within the art classroom residing in critiques of artists’ works and noting or analyzing the techniques or reasons why the artist did what they did to create the visual piece. Frank elaborates upon the standards in being literate in reading visual images and also delves further into the aspects that make art or photography images what they are. Audiences can now see there are more to simple images that we use daily than meets the eye.

Baker’s chapter upon visual literacy proves immensely helpful in dealing with the artistic aspects to visual literacy. It provides the basic definition and examples of the concept, but it delves a bit farther by providing examples of how visual literacy can vary person to person. This book chapter establishes a strong bridge between the educational side to visual literacy and the artistic side to it that deals with aspects such as composition, lighting, angle, and colors or lack thereof. Baker points out that there is more to visual literacy than just the image, there is a whole process behind it.

These 3 major sources provided me with a solid introduction into the broad field that is visual literacy, when I knew hardly anything, now I know truly, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The World Needs a Hero. We need a Hero.

englund advice Englund Headshot Trixx draculaThis week in my English class discussion we were continuing illiteracy and the struggles of many students in the public school systems that are merely “placed” on a certain track because no one believes they can do anything on any of the other tracks set forth. Which is very wrong to think….give someone a chance, all they need is someone to believe in them and they can do anything.  The source we utilized as our major support and a book that I believe is really inspiring is Mike Roses’ “Live on the Boundary”. This is a book that includes personal observation of numerous students whom have struggled with school or whom were lost in the cracks within the school system, and there fore never fully received the education they truly needed. In one chapter specifically, Rose describes a student whose test scores were mixed up with another person and he was immediately placed in remedial classes where no one learned anything or even cared to teach the students for that matter. So in turn the students did not care about their education themselves. This is what happened to Rose. He used to love Chemistry, experiments, astronomy and learning as a child when his parents, whom were illiterate, purchased him a telescope and a little chemistry set. They wanted him to be better than they were and have a better life, like all parents want for their children, but the school system actually failed in this case. There are numerous flaws within this system and a major one revolves around judging and assessing a students level, placement, and current learning level and ability. The school assumed through these wrong scores that he could never learn, so they never wanted to try, and were more then willing to virtually “throw him away” along with all the other struggling students in the remedial track. Some students just simply don’t care about school, I get that, but he did and no one believed him. So he joined in the crowd and became unprepared in learning skills when the mistake was finally discovered and he was immediately catapulted into the college prep track. He was ready to fall into the cracks again until a hero found him.

His Literature professor saw how hard he tried and still struggled and was willing to work with him after class to learn to read, write, and comprehend at the levels he needed to to get into college. He even helped him get into college (on probation) despite his entrance scores being way low. During this entrance probation this teacher stayed in touch the whole way to make sure he didn’t struggle any longer. This teacher knew Rose’s potential, potential that every student has, Rose just needed that hero to guide him. Rose ended up graduating from Loyola University after this chapter ended, and to think no one believed he could make it simply from some standardized test scores. Teacher’s are amazing and can teach students so much, but cannot do that if they are burdened to simply teach a test to make sure students get good grades so they can pass it and the school can beat other schools out for funding. With that inspiring teacher, Rose was able to get the education he needed and wanted, he was given a chance.

I think Heroes in our lives help us not only with learning but in life in general. Without my awesome teachers, professors, principals, and role model’s constant support, I would not be where I am today. With life’s constant obstacles people often count people out, these inspiring heroes don’t do that. They push you to be better, pick you up off the ground, and become your mountains to help you reach the stars. I have so many heroes in my life that had battled for me in my corner when everyone was ready to count me out, and I owe them everything. Robert Englund even sent me some words of advice after hearing of my recent struggles, even simple gestures from the heroes in your life can mean the world, especially to a student. Everyone could use a hero, it can mean all the difference sometimes.

Above are my newest art pieces in charcoal and watercolor and Mr. Englund’s advice to me that kept me going. Let me know what you think!


What is Literacy?

During these first few weeks of the semester our English 202 class has been through a crash course in teacher training, all subjects training, assessment and tutor training, and we have made some surprising discoveries as we learned the new information! What is Literacy?

Well, many people will say, that’s easy, reading and being able to write clearly and effectively. I’ll answer to that….you are half correct. According to our LitCorps trainers and certifiers, literacy stands for more than just reading and writing. It stands for critical thinking, problem solving, comprehension, understanding, and involves all subjects…even science and math. And illiteracy has become an increased problem amongst adults aged 17 to 60. Since my civics issue blog will be mainly about education and what I have learned from my tutor training and illiteracy in general I figured I should start out with some startling facts that blew us all away.

The Litcorps ladies and our instructs from the literacy center had us study an article their agency did in regards to the new GED exam. they tested people to see how the new exam improvements fared and most test takers said the questions were so extensive that they only got half right, or struggled with nearly every question. And the worst part was, these testers had a high school diploma, and some even had a college diploma! Now an adult learner who dropped out or never graduated needs to take this GED test and pass in order to get their GED certification. Numerous amounts of those are taking it and failing because the test questions have been made to be way too hard. Considering someone right out of high school or even college could not handle the exam, think of how hard it must be for someone who has been out of school for years and has been dealing with possibly a job or a family to care for. Education was not a constant for them, and the GED may be impossible.

The Creators of the GED were getting slack because people felt the questions they did have on the test were not up to standards of the state or country. And with the country now stressing education and learning even more, it’s imperative that these test makers create a test that solidly tests someone. they want those people to seriously earn that GED and be prepared and educated in all the fields and skills they believe are necessary for us to function in society, jobs, or groups of people. While I understand that the test cannot be an easy test so anyone can pass, but does it need to be that hard?

Some of these people need their GED’s to move up in a job, or even get a certain job, and this is their only way of attaining that education certification. the United States wants to be in the top at everything, even education….I get it, but  at what point is something too hard for even the educated? Our class offered the debate that not even a standardized test can completely test the knowledge one would need to do certain things and everything someone may encounter in a job or life in general. Yes a test should be challenging, but we cant have it made impossible, or else no one will even try and education and literacy may fall even more. With all this training smushed into 3 weeks I’ve realized there’s more to education and teaching than I ever expected. Now that I will be a tutor/teacher I am truly grateful for all the work my teachers have put in both in the classroom and behind the scenes too. It is truly amazing to see how much learning and education expands into different areas. As I start teaching I will be nervous for sure, but I’ve now come to terms that I’ll be honored to help this person anyway I can to achieve their goals, no matter how big or small they are. I’ll get to be by their side through the whole adventure. And I can’t wait to start this week!