Join Philip Yenawine for an in-depth discussion in this video VTS method, part of Visual Thinking Strategies.
- The method that we found effective at producing growth in beginning viewers we call visual thinking strategies, and it activates the process of looking by asking questions, and the questions are grounded in data, and they are very basic. The first one is, what's going on in this picture? And you notice it's not, what do you see in this picture. What do you see can be answered by making a list of just simple observations, whereas what's going on doesn't preclude that kind of list of observations, but it suggests that you probe them for a little bit of meaning.
When they do probe for meaning, let's say they see a girl and they decide that she's happy, you ask another question. Well, what did you see that made you think she was happy? At which point they're asked to give reasons. Well, she seems to have a smile. That's called evidential reasoning. That's providing a backup to an opinion. And then we ask, what more can you find? So, that we keep a probing process ongoing. The teacher who facilitates the conversation sort of paraphrases what they said.
In other words, they listen very carefully to what someone said and then find their own words to express what the commenter said, which helps to keep everybody wanting to participate. So, a certain amount of credibility and self-confidence builds as a result of that, and, therefore, participation grows. As more people speak, there's more paraphrasing, and often different observations and different ideas, and the teacher is asked to link those. You keep track of the comments as they build, by linking disagreements, as well as agreements, and you show that it's okay to have different opinions about things.
You can indicate that you've seen something, but you're adding a new detail that might change or influence the meaning of this thing. So, your facilitation is very active, but it's all about supporting exactly what they've said, no matter what direction it goes, no matter what the content is.