“How smart are you?” is now irrelevant. A more powerful new question is, “How are you smart?”
How many of us remember when a calculator and typewriter were considered the height of technology? We are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift. We are moving from a period in which the language of production and manufacturing dominated our way of seeing the world to a time when ideas about information and communication shape our discourse. Some philosophers argue that we are actually in the midst of an even deeper change–one in which the pendulum of worldview is swinging from a more masculine, word-based culture to one that is more feminine and image-based.
It is hard to argue with the observation that the generation of students now moving into and through our educational system is by far the most visually stimulated generation that system has ever had to teach. Research shows us that 65% of our students are visual learners. Having grown up with cable television, video games, computer software for education and entertainment, and the Internet, our students are truly visual learners coming of age in an increasingly visual world. Notwithstanding individual differences in intelligence and learning style, this generation of students needs to be taught the way they best learn–with visual stimulation accompanied by active learning strategies. As educators, we need to recognize the nature of our students and prepare them for the world in which they will live and work. We must allow this understanding of the visual nature of our students to influence our teaching techniques and the educational technologies we employ. We need to become Visual Teachers.