Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Art of Looking Sideways

"We've talked before about divergent thinking and visual learners," my mom said, handing me a hefty book. "You and the lovely ladies might enjoy this one."

She was right.

The art of looking sideways by Alan Fletcher has already provoked a couple interesting discussions and whiled away a few spare minutes. From the inside cover: "The art of looking sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination....concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind." Sounds like just the ticket for our young divergent-thinking visual-spatial learners. Fletcher notes in his brief introduction to the book, "Most books written on visual matters are authored by those who analyze rather than experience. Many are hard work and littered with academic jargon...concerned with the mechanics rather than the thoughts, with the match rather than the fire." The art of looking sideways has certainly ignited a spark in our house. It's not particularly meant to be read sequentially, starting at the first page and ending with the last; instead, we've been dipping into the pages at random, always with anticipation. What will we find next? Writings and quotes on the human brain (p. 121)? A visual puzzle...what looks like a red triangle imagining itself as a curled curvy playful blue shape (p.157)? A photo of a plate and bowl made of fur (p. 453)? Writings on symmetry, visual paradox, design, sign language, imagination? Cartoons, photos, sketches, paintings?

Definitely a keeper, Mom, thanks. I'll enjoy exploring The art of looking sideways with all of my sideways-lookers.

A little off topic, but while I'm thinking of my fine and lovely young sideways-lookers, for an interesting article about gifted visual-spatial learners, read this article. The oldest lovely lady is strongly visual-spatial, an artistic intuitive whole-picture thinker and learner. She can sometimes leap to the solution to a problem with no idea how she got there, going from A to Z in a thought. Sometimes, though, she jumps from A to L and gets stuck there, or goes from A to 12 or to blue or to yesterday. She has no idea how she got there either, and no idea how to get back. It's a challenge to modify my strongly auditory-sequential teaching style to meet her needs, and to patiently help her develop some of her sequential thinking skills so that she can evaluate whether or not the leap she's taken has gone in the right direction. (My biggest challenge, the patience part and the skills-teaching part.) It's a good thing she's patient. I expect that the second of the young gents, my sweet and gentle 3-year-old, will benefit from having his older sister play guinea pig.


KarenK said...

That IS an interesting article by Sword, so many suggestions for "sideways" teaching in there. I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying the book and finding it useful - seems to be the kind of book that will never wear out.

Anonymous said...

have you seen page 388 of this book and do you know the answer!!!!!!

Cathy said...

Alas, the book is packed away in a box right now, and I do not know the answer to the puzzle. Good luck!