Its not what you look at – but what you see

Looking and seeing are not same. Seeking is almost like soaking eyes into what we want to see. Explore various aspects of visual intelligence and enjoy what you create.

The question is not what you look at but what you see.
Henry David Thoreau

How do you see the world around you? Or more specifically what do you see ‘in’ the world around you. Do you see rainbows in your garden? Do you see roses in cheeks? Do you see bravery in dresses? Do you see a “D” in an Auto rickshaw? Do you see a rose and say – oh it’s just another rose or do you marvel why its majestic thorns bend slightly downwards? Do you see a scene in a movie and enjoy the moment or you also enjoy the low camera angle the director chose to make the eyes and tears look deeper.
Do you read a math problem and start solving it or do you see it unfolding in front of you – objectified within your realm of visualization. Do you like a juicy orange – or do you also see a beautiful dress evolving out the slices span out?

Visual Intelligence is about seeing from an active, seeking, thoughtful, wondering, playful mind. It’s about seeing the present and the future and the past. It’s about seeing, carrying, playing with and creating images. Visual Intelligence is not about Art class. It’s about Art class in every class.

The starting point of understanding, exploring and using visual intelligence is SEEING. ·Can we get the child observe a leaf in its many details; the lines, the shape, the shades, the curves, the texture. Isn’t this the most beautiful form of text book about leaves? The child is able to collate lot of information about the leaf design, features, understand the leaf, compare it with other leaves / flower/ fruit, etc. Finally is the child able to learn a lot about it, to make decisions, to analyse visually, to apply, et al.

  • Can we get the child to observe what happens to clock every time the second needle (or minute needle) makes one round. As the child makes the visual connection between the minute hand and the hour hand the child explores the concept of clock in a more sublime way.
  • Can we get the child to observe what happens to self / friends as they go though different emotions. When a child carefully observes the visual signals of emotional manifestations, they own understanding of emotions and resulting behavior is automatic.
  • Can we get the child to observe how a professional athlete runs a race (video). Let the children focus on the way the athlete uses her body, her legs, her hand, her head, etc.
  • Can we get the child to observe the illustration of the story in detail – what all is there in the picture, why it is there, why it is drawn like this, why the drawing uses a certain colour, how is it different and same from what we see around us.
  • Can we get the child to not too soon name a visual (say a truck or a costume) – but rather look into details – absorb the patterns, the arrangements, the colours used, the size and shapes of various parts of the visual, the lines and curves, – the more we delve into the details – the more we learn about it.

Observation is the raw material collection stage. Perhaps the most important stage. The more raw materials the child collects the more data the child has, the more he can absorb, know assimilate, analyse etc. In fact the mere collecting of data presents with huge learning possibilities. Also the child is able to play around more if he has more data.

If observation was to collect,VISUALIZATIONis to PLAY around.

  • We can get children to visualize what they have already experienced (say the leaf) and project it into what is purely imaginary – say human beings growing leaves on them so that they can stay cooler or they can also prepare food via photosynthesis or simply use trees as clothes. The key obviously is children coming out with their imaginations and not what we want them to imagine. The kaleidoscope of the mind is so wonderful – you can make and break as many images in a minute with absolutely no material except our free visualization faculty.
  • Get children to imagine how as the minute needle completes each round – what all can happen to the clock. So we are doing away with our clock and adding more fun visual happening to the (imaginary) clock. Perhaps the cuckoo coming out at every hour was an example of this kind of visualization by the inventor!
  • Get children to sit in front of the mirror and play around with expressions as related to different emotions – try to laugh ‘cryingly’, try to be happily worried, or sadly celebrate and so on. One of advantages of mixing the visual objectives is breaking the conditioning the system tries to put on my minds visual learning. By age five already a ball is something the child knows so well – that telling them that I am getting a ball to the class doesn’t stir them. Till I walk into the class with a gym ball (about two feel diameter).
  • Once I see an athlete running – I can now start visualizing me running in different ways – with no actual effort at this stage the visualization can be simply perfect. This is the other beauty of visualization – there are no mistakes in the stage of visualization and hence I can build on my thinking (read train the mind) even before my hands or legs actually do the work. There is considerable work on how pre primary children can actually write (in their imagination) beautifully and correctly much before they actually pick the pencil to do so. Their ability to see letters, words, sentences, expression in the mind first – perfectly – helps the actual doing of it later.
  • The most beautiful thing about a novel is that you get the child to build the plot, the place, the set, and the characters all in their visualization space with great detail, fantasy and involvement. The moment story telling to children is not just about presentation but more about involvement – all in their mind-space – the movie of the story comes alive with vivid expressions. Expert story tellers (like our Grandma), tell less and make listeners create visual more. They know the power of movie camera inside children’s mind is far more power-full that any presentation skill.
  • And finally can we get the child to play with visual elements – change lines, curves, shapes, sizes, colours, arrangements etc. Example, change the proportions of eyes – face – body. Draw the body as big as eyes, the eyes as big face and the face as big as body and viola you have created something interesting.

The third and often the final stage of visual intelligence is the desire to communicate, to express, to give meaning, to COMPOSE.

Usually when we work with children in terms of visuals we too soon get into creating the final visual. Needless to say by passing the observation and visualization stages will only mean the most of our visuals will be insipid or limited. However once the children input’ is copious and process of thinking is super charged, then what the child creates is automatically far more meaningful and learning enhancing.

Get children to express their thoughts about scientific world, about mathematical work, emotional issues, their experiences, their stories, their explorations of any aspect of learning through VISUAL COMPOSITIONS.

  • First key is to explore different mediums – use drawing, crayons, paints with brushes, fingers, palms, feet, use clay or dough, use paper cutting, collages, use sketching, make 2-D arrangements using shapes and blocks, make 3-D models (specially out of junk), make puppets, click pictures, use doodles, use stamps, use distorted pictures, use close ups, etc. Use visual organisers like mind maps, time lines, bar and pie charts, Venn diagrams, fish bone diagrams and let children create own visual organisers using out lines of common shapes likes trees, butterflies, flowers etc.
  • Second key is to explore constraints – give children only one colour to paint a garden (they focus on shape and size), only one hand to draw an expression (they focus on essentials), only straight lines to draw a clock (they invent own designs of clock working), only white sheet to be pasted on black sheet to draw a illustration (focus on outline and arrangement) and so on. You realise the moment we out a constraint, we get children to focus on a specific aspect of their work. Incidentally the constraint makes it exponentially enjoyable.
  • Finally the third key to simply compose more. Simply give children more opportunities to create visual expressions and see your class come alive.

In conclusion, Art in every class means: ·Just let children open their eyes and see ·Just let children close their eyes and imagine ·Just let children open their hands and create.

“So what! about the line”
said the shape,
“I can live without it!
Just give me some color
and put beside me
a bowl of happy visualizations”