This summer, I am interning with the Education Department at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I am especially helping with a professional development program called Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities through Art. It is a weeklong program that seeks to provide teachers from around the country with the tools they need to incorporate art in their social studies and English/language arts classrooms.
This program is interesting to me because it encourages both a visual and a linguistic literacy, emphasizing the parallels between the two. In my personal experience in academia, writing a good paper has been privileged above such skills as interpreting symbols in a photograph or analyzing materials and texture in a sculpture.
Oftentimes, a person’s intelligence or intellectual capability are judged by the words he or she can understand and the words with which he or she chooses to express him or herself. That’s just not fair, especially today, because though we are surrounded by words, we are also surrounded by visual stimuli. Whether you are viewing a political cartoon, a crime scene, or your friends’ facial expressions, knowing how to read the visuals surrounding you is just as important as knowing how to read the words. That’s why I like this Institute, I think. It teaches teachers how to incorporate and connect visual and linguistic literacies to reach out to a variety of learners and to empower students to be curious and thoughtful about the world around them in different ways.
Have a great day.
-Courtney Carter, 17