What is Visual Thinking Strategies?
Visual Thinking Strategies is a slow looking enquiry based process developed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in which children lead the agenda. It is the result of 15 years collaboration between cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen and museum educator Philip Yenawine.
VTS is an educational curriculum and teaching method which enables students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills. Students learn from each other, respect each others opinion and acknowledge that there a multiple perspectives of a given artwork and learn how to incorporate other ideas.
VTS facilitation is based around three initial questions:
What do you see? or What’s going on in this artwork?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What else can we see?
VTS Neighbourhood Schools – Sharing the Experience received funding under Dublin City Councils Neighbourhood Arts Funding to develop on its Visual Thinking Strategies Project. Through using Visual Thinking Strategies to add to the knowledge of the arts and build on the sense of place and experience that the children on Central Model N.S have and to share that experience with their neighbours through working in close collaboration with two schools (St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview and St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough) with trained VTS practitioners.
For Phase 1 (March – June 2017)- there were 2nd Class groups from Central Model School, Junior Infants from St.Vincent’s BNS and Evita Coyle’s 3rd Class group from St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview all doing a series of 6 X VTS Sessions with trained facilitators – Bridget Kildee, Orla Doyle and Claire Halpin who will be mentored by Liz Coman (DCC Assistant Arts Officer and trained VTS Facilitator).
For Phase 2 (September 2017 – March 2018) – we have continued VTS Sessions with the original class groups and Claire has started a series of 6 sessions with Sarah Dwyer’s First Class Group. We have had two session with our first gallery visit to The Lab Gallery last week. We visited the exhibition Future Proof which is a group exhibition of artists exploring science through different forms and materials.
VTS Beginner and Advanced Training Practicum
In November a number of teachers from the three participating schools in the VTS Neighbourhood Schools will be participating the Visual Thinking Strategies Beginners Practicum Training in association with Dublin City Arts Office and The Lab Gallery. Evita Coyle from St.Mary’s N.S will be participating and then will begin facilitating sessions with her First Class group with the support of Claire Halpin and Liz Coman through mentoring and evaluating.
VTS Neighbourhood Schools – Evaluation/ Feedback
- Feedback from teachers that the children were listening to each other speak and giving each other space and time to articulate their thoughts without being interrupted, something that did not happen before.
- The children’s levels of verbal articulation rose as did their confidence in speaking and all of these things are very valuable in terms of developmental learning.
- Children are learning from each other, listening and acknowledging that there are multiple perspective and interpretations of a given artwork and respecting each other’s opinions.
- They are learning how to incorporate others ideas through using “I agree with and I think that etc” and also transferring these problem solving and negotiating skills naturally into other subjects in the classroom.
- Class teachers have also began using the VTS facilitation methods in other subjects eg. science and SPHE through encouraging group discussion, observations and evidencing of observations or contributions to discussions – ie. what do you see that makes you say that?
- Through each child’s contributions being listened to and respected, the children gained in confidence and some of the quieter children were encouraged by this to contribute orally to the sessions and gaining in confidence in their contributions.
- The students have a greater awareness of the art spaces in their local neighbourhood as well as the changing exhibition programme through visits with the class as well as passing by at other times – eg. “the exhibition has changed since we went last time, the big photo is gone”.
- Children are relating to their parents their visits to The Lab and Hugh Lane Gallery and have revisited exhibitions with their parents and families.
DCC Arts Office – Project 20/20
VTS in an Irish Primary School: https://vimeo.com/127655342
Visual Thinking Strategies https://vtshome.org/