Visual Literacy In The Curriculum

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

The video brings up Elliott Eisner's ideas - focusing on visual content and interpretation of the images must be included in the curriculum in all subjects. These images will allow for the "thousand words" to appear in school textbooks and digital content.


Basically, what will we gain if we focus on the visual representation?

What if these images will "waste" our teaching time?

What you see - everyone sees and understands, no?

Well, it turns out from many studies - no.




A person depicts a piece of information from an image concerning his previous knowledge of the subject. Accordingly, he focuses his attention on specific details.
And this is just the first step.

What a person interprets is even more complex, because often the interpretation of one is different from the interpretation of the other.

And the most complex things when it comes to photography, painting, or a picture that consists of various small details.



To interpret - a person needs prior knowledge, connotations that allowed him to build meaning from what the eye sees.


And all this in a class of 30-40 students. Not simple.


It also turns out that living in such a visual environment affects us.

We are increasingly busy filtering and avoiding the processing of a lot of visual information that comes to us and less searching for it.

Therefore, many times we do not see.


To get started. It will help if you focus your students' attention on the details you want to promote their interpretation.


Take each picture from the study number. Introduce students. Also, in the plenum, even in a small group, in individual instruction.


Then - try to ask the children - what do you see? And ask them to describe in detail.

And then ask for their interpretations - what does this mean for you? What do you understand?

Talking with your students will allow you to "peek" into the depths of students' prior knowledge and teach better.

You will be amazed at how many more things your students will discover in representation and what other interpretations exist about it.

Students' interpretations might shift your lesson subject, altering your intention when presenting them an image or video.

But, if you did not find out with the learners - you would not know that they understood something completely different from the same picture you saw together.


Researchers in the field around the world, and also in Israel - Prof. Miriam Ben-Peretz and Prof. Billy Eilam from the University of Haifa, for example,

Some experts argue that curricula ignore the potential inherent in building meaning from visual representations in teaching materials and are uneducated to build a pedagogy that will enhance learning. (Example of a leading country - Australia has recently changed its curriculum respectively and is developing innovative approaches to teaching in this area).


Curriculum Emphasis on learning from visual representations has many benefits beyond what we all think - addressing differences between learners, increasing interest and attention, and promoting creative thinking.
Such a program can promote meaning building for all learners, enable learning within the context, actively engage learners in learning, promote self-learning abilities, and more.

Eilam, B. & Ben-Peretz, M. (2010).  Revisiting curriculum inquiry: The role of     

visual representations.  Journal of Curriculum Studies, 1-24


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Good luck, 21st-century teachers.

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