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Sunni Brown

Author, Chief Infodoodler, sunnibrown.com


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Why is visual literacy discouraged in most cultures & WHAT CAN WE DO to change that?

This LIVE CONVERSATION will open at 1PM ET/ 10AM PT on Monday, October 31th! Join me!

Visual literacy, if described as the ability to communicate via doodling, drawing, and sketching or described as the ability to display complex information in visual language formats, is often a literacy missing in adults despite it being a universal and natural inclination in children. Why does it disappear? And more importantly, what can we do to alter this course?

**ADMIN UPDATE: Sunni Brown has asked to extend her Conversation for two weeks. She will be jumping in to catch up with responses over the next two weeks. Happy posting everyone!


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  • Oct 31 2011: Isn't this rather a McLuhanesque question? Figure and ground? Literary literacy (a bit redundant to speak it) is privileged in a way that no other type of literacy is, and I judge this is so because of the malleability and extensibility of the medium (text, linearity, intertextuality, contextuality) in ways drawing and diagramming are not. But I think there is a petitio principii in the question: Where is the evidence in the claim that so-called visual literacy is discouraged in most cultures? The near death of the primary form of literacy (reading and writing) will not by itself bring about visual literacy or any other type such as the mathematical or the musical. But if there is anything out there to encourage visual reasoning (let's just place this without question in the faculty of the mind and not in some other organ), I submit that it is as simple as a matter of getting in touch with the child, at play with more important things. I must reckon that practitioners of visual literacy can have this child-like sense of their work. And by bringing it about in the consideration of problems which other forms of literacy are encumbered to handle or show or depict or break through, it will have honed an old skill or inclination and subjected to new challenges an inherently dynamic and evocative medium.

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