A curriculum for visual storytelling

Sharon’s thoughtful comment yesterday helped frame the parallel between our current traditional notion of teaching literacy in school (currently seen as a necessity), and the more modern notion of extending the teaching of literacy to include visual storytelling (currently seen as elective, at best).

Teaching young people to read and write is a multi-year effort, which extends from kindergarten all the way through their senior year of high school and beyond. This effort touches on many areas, including vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, writing practice, study of fiction and non-fiction, as well as the study and analysis of great works in a wide variety of literary genres.

If we are to take seriously the teaching of visual narrative creation, we need to break it down into a multiyear program consisting of progressive age-appropriate courseware, where each academic year builds upon skills that were mastered during the previous year.

In addition, we’d want to incorporate skills of visual storytelling into the teaching of classes in other subjects, including math and the sciences, as well as history and cultural studies. In today’s curriculum we expect students to be able to express their mastery of a subject through the written word. It would be logical to extend that expectation to include the creation of expository visual narratives.

It has not escaped our notice that an educational shift to more visual and dynamic means of expression would quite likely increase the teaching of computer programming and computational thinking. 🙂

3 thoughts on “A curriculum for visual storytelling”

  1. I agree that it definitely would need to be a multi-year curriculum in order to really make a difference. It would also make a lot of sense to incorporate it into many classes rather than having it be an isolated subject. Afterall, a video is not an end in itself, but a means of communicating or entertaining. The content needs to be there. (My daughter’s school did a lot of cross-subject integration. Hence, a socially-minded public service announcement as part of the art class. They even had their videos shown on the local cable station.)

    Ah, now we get down to your ulterior motive! 🙂
    I’m not sure I see that learning to make videos using computing equipment would necessarily increase the teaching of computer programming and more than using word processors and page layout software does. Can you say more about that?

  2. There is a huge difference between describing and showing. Once you are invested in showing any sort of process over time, then it is much more natural (and you are much more motivated) to learn the tools of simulation and procedural methods.

    For example, no writer would think of using a tool such as Max/MSP or Scratch to write a prose story. Yet each of these tools turns out to be very useful for creating and editing certain kinds of time-varying visual descriptions.

  3. Yes, I can see that. When you talked about videos I was thinking more video camera but if you are also thinking about animation (and of course you would be 😉 ) then the computer programming follows more naturally.

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