Visual Thinking Strategies

Visual Thinking Strategies (Natl Docent Symp 2019)Nancy Miwa.pdf 

Visual Thinking Strategies
National Docent Symposium 2019

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a nonprofit dedicated to fostering collaborative dialogue for educators and students and, in the museum world, for docents and visitors. It principally consists of three questions:

    1. What is going on in this picture (sculpture, artifact, object)?
    2. What makes you say that?
    3. What else can we find?

VTS created a way to engage in conversation with visitors in a non-judgmental manner. The docent paraphrases each response without judgment, points to the artwork while paraphrasing, and remains open to each new comment. During the conversation, link responses by comparing and contrasting what others have said. Let the visitors back up or reason out their responses. The result of the VTS method leaves the visitor relaxed and validated while exercising critical thinking skills.

The docent may or may not wish to give backstory and history to the artwork at the end of the VTS conversation. At the symposium it was generally agreed among docents that it is best to link comments with some content, at least for an adult audience.

This method is a dramatic leap from simply standing in front of a piece of art and talking about it. The goal is to encourage visitors to observe and back up their observations with evidence.

There is a YouTube video “Visual Thinking Strategies: Terra Foundation for American Art” to see one of the founders of this technique, Philip Yenawine, in action.

You may also visit 

Nancy Miwa November 2019