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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Leading Question #4

Making Meaning From Images

What is going on in this picture? This question can be asked of any image from the book and employed her to get students to think and talk and share.  Engaging students through a work of art in this way serves to, in the words of former education director of the Museum of Modern Art, Phillip Yenawine, “deepen learning across school disciplines” by enhancing student’s “ability to find meaning in imagery” (Yenawine, 2013). Since that there is not just one correct answer they begin to engage in a higher level of thinking. In the process of discussing a work a work of art, students experience the idea that there is more than one way to see something. They learn that it is OK to take a risk by sharing their opinion and that their opinion is valued by their classmates and the adults. Students also learn to have conversations in which they can politely disagree with someone else’s perception but they can respect it anyway – a behavior that applies in the other areas of their lives and the other subjects they are studying. This type of interaction is a great confidence builder and instills in students the idea that they are part of a community and not just on their own. The basic follow-up questions are: “What do you see that makes you say that?”, and, “What more can we find? These are suggested questions and can be used as is or the underlying premise can be restated in another way that is specific to the image or the flow of the conversation that is taking place.

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