Friday, March 6, 2009

Image-Based Learning= Cave Drawings?

For the last eight years I have been teaching technology, I've noticed that children seem to learn easiest from visual tools. They sit up and listen when a point is illustrated by a photo or by a short video clip. They love interactive games. This is likely no big revelation to most people in the field. However, I got to thinking the other day that this may be a regression of sorts: our prehistoric cave drawings returning as the choice medium of communication. Reading text is harder, there is decoding and meaning-making involved that simple image recognition does not involve to quite the same degree. That's not to say that decoding images is facile, I just mean that construing meaning from text is more difficult. I am reminded of social philosopher Marshall McLuhan's warnings that we are devolving back into a "global village" mentality, in which the image is the primary mode of communication--overcoming years of self-imposed text-based book learning, which is challenging for the human brain.

So, in appealing to these more instinctual meaning-making modes for human beings, are we appealing to the easiest way to make meaning? Are we dumbing kids down? The rational side to me says: "Of course, Alecia, everything requires balance and moderation." There are few teachers advocating exclusively image-based instruction. It should be only one modality of many. But STILL! Is it true that we are offering a little bit of candy with the broccoli bits when we utilize image-based teaching techniques? Sure, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but are our kids beginning to prefer a more primitive image based mode of comprehension? And if they are, is that bad? I'm not saying it is, but I'm thinking about it.

1 comment:

Ishwar said...

I'm really convinced that visual images creat enthusiasm to the children and they are more interested in learning new things. I fully agree with your points that 'seeing is believing'. i'd like to add a stanga of poem
Tell me I forget
Teach me I learn
Involve me I know.
I think learning and knowing are quite different. If you teach me about the football games, I learn it but I do not know how to play football until i'm involved in playing it.