As my recent forays into book trailer creation has emphasized for me, visual literacy is not my strong suit. But I got an overwhelming reaction to the book trailers, and almost all 50 books I had were grabbed by students; there is no doubt in my mind that that that would not have happened if I had only talked about the books. People respond to images. And even though I'm not always great at interpreting images, they always provoke a reaction in me. I feel comfortable with words. I like words. But not everyone does. And while I've always been sort of vaguely aware of it, the experience with the book railers really highlighted for me the fact that my students do a lot better with images than with words. But in order to present something in images, I have to be able to think in images first. Which, to put it simply, is hard.
Though perhaps my visual literacy skills are improving with practice; this is the first time I've assembled a desk that I haven't needed to take off the drawer runner thingies and put them on what I suddenly realize is the right way after 20 unsuccessful minutes of trying to put the drawer in.
I also recently read something in the New York Times Idea Blog about Exit signs that had me thinking that we, as a nation, might not have developed these skills:
Red, on the other hand, most often means danger, alert, halt, please don’t touch. Why confuse panicked evacuees with a sign that means right this way in a color that means stop? International designers tend to think our system is illogical and consider our rejection of the running man to be as dumb as our refusal to adopt that other sensible international norm, the metric system.
So I might be bad at this, but at least I'm not alone. And I'm going to keep working at it, if only so future furniture assembly involves fewer headaches, and also so I can design visual representations of famous movie quotes.