Visual Thinking and Art

Rick Ludeman

Recently I read an ASCD article about fostering creativity that described a technique called visual thinking strategies or VTS. Initially created to explore aesthetic development in children, VTS is a teaching method centered on open-ended yet highly-structured discussions of visual art. It engages students in an enriching experience that not only builds creativity but also develops critical thinking and communication skills.

Visual Thinking Strategies

Photo courtesy of Visual Thinking Strategies.

I was intrigued. I tracked down the organization’s website and read another article about a participating school in Sonoma, California which included this quote from the principal, “Students are listening, asking questions, forming new understanding, and then talking about that understanding.” It struck me that this is exactly what we hope happens in classrooms using our math materials. In fact, the principal went on to say, "It has transferred to all areas of learning, and the conversations are far deeper, between student and student and student and teacher." We have heard similar comments from Bridges teachers who note that techniques such as “think, pair, share” are improving student learning across subjects.

Last week on a trip to California I arranged to meet with Oren Slozberg, executive director of Visual Thinking Strategies. We agreed that our organizations shared an underlying philosophy and approach to education. I hope to visit a classroom using VTS sometime soon and encourage you to learn more about this unique program.

Rick Ludeman is president of MLC.