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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: It's silly because we are becoming a visual learning culture. With the introduction of phones, computers, tv, and technology, our form of learning is being steered more towards visual information processing, as well as auditory. But the visual representation has to be intact first for most people to even be receptive. People aren't whispering at the dinner table anymore, or passing notes. No, they are sending texts and videos and images to one another. The education system is snub-nosed and arrogant, out-dated and slow to recognize incoming trends, and they are failing us. More concerned with their unions and political prioritization than the actual quality of the education they are giving our children. And, because of their out-dated methods, they are not giving two-thirds of our children a chance. How dare they tell our children to get with it when it is them that are failing to recognize the innate capacities these children have to learn in today's day in age. Their lack of receptiveness makes me sad, and it makes me sick. Without giving these children opportunities for alternative method problem solving and information portrayal, you are giving them and our nation nothing for the progress of tomorrow.
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      Oct 31 2011: Less than 5 minutes ago: We are definitely moving at hyper-speed to visual consumption of content. My concern is that most children and adults don't know how to produce that content visually. We have always been visual creatures (try walking into a room with your eyes closed) but we are lacking any system by which we get better at creating, analyzing, and displaying information visually.
      • Oct 31 2011: I think we could look towards our most current example/resource: Advertising. With an intensive study on it's origin and tactics, I believe a small crack in a big door will be opened.
      • Nov 3 2011: i think we favor words over images because words allow precision far more than images which can be illustrative and be inspirational, but lack the rigor and precision of words and numbers. Can we "agree" on what a painting "means"? No, and thats the mystical attraction of imagery. Words and numbers allow us to engineer solutions that directly effect survival and the primary measures of quality of life. I find the increase in visual communication to be dumbing down children who are captivated by moving pictures but who cannot construct an argument.

        Did you do a TED Talk or a TED draw? your pictures hold the inspiration for me but the meaning, for me, is encoded in words. I am a big fan of your work :)
        • Nov 4 2011: What if kids don't want to argue? What if they just want to share? What if being "dumbed down" is the state of dualistic debate and arguments?
    • Nov 2 2011: Quote: "The education system is snub-nosed and arrogant, out-dated and slow to recognize incoming trends, and they are failing us. More concerned with their unions and political prioritization than the actual quality of the education they are giving our children...Their lack of receptiveness makes me sad, and it makes me sick."

      As an educator, I simply do not recognise this grossly inaccurate caricature you are painting here (if I may use a relevant metaphor!). If you are really interested in winning over others to the benefits of visuals (as I, again as a educator, most definitely am), then let me suggest that this overly generalised slandering of those involved in education is not the most effective way of doing this. Recognise the (already widespread) good practice; gracefully and passionately critique the less effective practice, and build from there.
      • Nov 2 2011: Again Allister, I'm not interested in politics. As an educator I think you should be the one critiquing your practice and going from there. And spreading what you've found in the benefits of visuals.
      • Nov 2 2011: Actually, as an educator, I think you should be finding what is working. And share your knowledge.
      • Nov 2 2011: And be going from there.

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