Teaching at the d.school

In my life outside of TinkerLab, I work with museum teachers to learn and practice skills for engaging museum visitors (both children and adults) in meaningful discussions about works of art. One of the strategies I most enjoy using and teaching is called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). And today I had the great pleasure of facilitating a VTS session at Stanford’s d.school in a class called Creative Gym: A Design Thinking Skills Workshop. Don’t you just love the name of this course? The class, an experimental studio focused on honing design intuition and creative confidence, was founded by Grace Hawthorne and Charlotte Burgess-Auburn. Charlotte is Director of Community at the d.school and Grace is cofounder of Ready Made magazine. If you’ve ever read Ready Made, you’ll understand why I knew I would adore Grace before ever meeting her.

VTS is a research-based teaching method for looking at art “that improves critical thinking and language skills through discussions of visual images.” I guided the students through two looking activities, followed by a short discussion about how they could apply this strategy to other areas of their lives.  They came up with all sorts of interesting interpretations including how this approach of looking carefully at an artwork can help one suspend judgment, become more keenly aware of stereotypes, and become open to multiple points of view. Several museums such as the MFA Boston and DeYoung Museum have trained their floor staff and volunteers in VTS, and if you have the opportunity to participate in one of these lively discussions it’s definitely worth your time!  While this post isn’t specifically about children, I include it because it’s important to remember that if we expect our children to become creative and critical thinkers, we should remember to nourish and support our own creative spirit as well. Watch this video for a taste of what this conversation could look like.

As much fun as it was to lead this workshop, I am in love with the concept of this course and wish I had the time to take it myself!

Comments

  1. says

    How did I not know about Ready Made magazine? I hope my local Barnes & Noble carries it. I have a gift card earmarked for new magazines to try. ;)

    How neat to get to teach there–or be a student there, either one! The Carle Museum uses VTS too, I believe, but I’ve never seen it in action while we’ve been there. Maybe it’s just used with special groups and not casual visitors?

  2. rachelle says

    ReadyMade is fabulous and totally worth tracking down. You would love it, I’m sure. And I just noticed that you can get a year subscription for $6.99 via their website.

    Since a lot of museums reserve VTS for school groups, you’d never see it unless you were to chaperone your child’s class. I had to pop over to the Carle’s website, and was surprised to find that they’re running a VTS workshop for teachers in April. It may be worth looking into! http://www.carlemuseum.org/Programs_Events/For_Professionals

    • says

      Lots of their workshops look great. I have a mental list of Things to Do when I’m done nursing and can easily get away for an entire day. ;)

      Are you familiar with the whole book approach? (There’s a workshop listed on that, too.) The first time we visited the Carle, we attended story time, and I was so, so impressed. Best story time I’d ever been to–and it’s because they use the whole book approach. They have info on it on the website, too.

      • rachelle says

        I know, I also have such a small window of opportunity with nursing, and was only able to lead the class on Tuesday because my kind husband wrangled the kids in the room next door. Getting away for a whole day seems like a very distant possibility! Thanks SO MUCH for sharing info on the Whole Book Approach. SO interesting. I haven’t heard of it before, but do find myself using some of these techniques with my daughter. I guess that once VTS is in the blood, it’s hard to go back! Hopefully I can see it in person on one of our trips to the East Coast.