One of the main takeaways I took from these articles/videos is that arts and visual literacy should be taught in school not as a separate subject but as an integrated part of the normal core subjects. In the 21st century, students need to learn how to use the right-side part of their brain just as much as the left-side. With the emergence of cameras, television, computers, etc. has also come the emergence of all different kinds of literacies, and it is important the students have the chance to grasp all of these literacies while at school. When using the arts in normal subjects, students are not only learning the content they need to learn but also other crucial skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Integrating the arts allows students to approach content from a different perspective, and ultimately think about the content in a more meaningful and expressive way.
I never went to an “arts integration” school or one that specifically focused on using the arts in education, but I definitely have had some experiences where teachers did use arts or arts-based assignments and projects to help teach the content. In my U.S. History class in high school, the teacher assigned a group project in which we had to discuss the culture of a certain decade (mine was the 1970s) through creating video clips, posters, powerpoints, and whatever else we wanted to symbolize the decade. One of the main requirements for the project was that we had to decorate the classroom with items representing our decade. This project took a lot of time and was a lot of work, but I remember feeling so accomplished and proud of our work, and I definitely remember so much of that content. If we had just learned about the culture of the 1970s through taking notes off a powerpoint, I would never have learned and retained as much as I did by completing this project.
The photo blog is not necessarily challenging for me, but instead of thinking about what pictures I could be using while I am writing, I tend to write my whole reflection and then go back and see what pictures I could get to fit with what I wrote about. In the end I feel like this doesn’t really help me to learn the material better or think about what I am saying more because I am just adding pictures at the end. However, going back and looking at my reflections, I do really like having the pictures there. It helps me to remember the big concepts and have a better idea of the main points I was trying to make. Using “visual literacy” does not come across as naturally for me as it may for others. As an educator, I hope I can help all students realize the benefit of applying visual literacy on an every day basis.