In my book, “Being Visual”, I talk about my 20 years experience teaching young kids how to draw by using their preferred learning style. The classes and teaching method were popular and effective, so I made a business out of it. But it’s never really been about the business. All I wanted was to work with kids — to do art with kids — to teach and empower — to see their sweet faces light up with every new discovery. My young students thrived when they got the “how to” information they craved. And while teaching children how to draw, they taught me — again and again — how important art is to them.
After years helping children develop foundational art skills, I decided to do some research on why these drawing classes seemed to improve their academic abilities. It turns out the majority of kids, 75%, rely on their visual skills to learn, so teaching them to draw was teaching them to see, think and learn.
Not all children learn the same way. Our left-brain dominant kids are comfortable in the world of language. Our right-brain, visual kids thrive in the world of images. For these students, no seeing means no thinking. No thinking means no learning. It turns out that visual art training was helping them develop the visual skills that were essential to their learning. But along with learning to see, our students were also learning to draw, a critical component of them being able to communicate in their native tongue — the world of visuals.
But these visual students are not just the art kids. Brilliant minds like Einstein, Edison, da Vinci and so many more were right-brain visual thinkers. They thought, discovered and communicated using visuals. Many of our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students are visual-spatial. When we teach them to see, do and communicate with visuals, we empower them as thinkers and learners. I address these issues and so many more in my upcoming book, Being Visual: Raising a Generation of Innovative Thinkers, available September 2012.