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NO ONE TAUGHT THEM THE RULES: Children Make Visual Information Dr. Janet Gino, academic NO ONE TAUGHT THEM THE RULES: Children Make Visual Information Dr. Janet Gino, academic consultant and innovator of special learning programs, the Neve Yosef Community Center, Haifa, Israel Email: slp [email protected] matnasim. co. il Website: www. visualmeaning. com INTRODUCTION Now, more than ever, children are reading, looking at, and producing visual texts for learning and for expressing their ideas. The process of designing a visual text, the placing of words, photographs and graphics together, is greatly influenced by the codes and rules of Western picture making. But what happens if these codes are unknown, or if children from non-Western cultural backgrounds have not ‘picked up’ the rules via exposure and cultural contact, or are not taught them at school? This poster focuses on visual texts produced by children from diverse cultural backgrounds and discusses their different ways of ‘meaning-making’, the decision-making process that takes place during the production of visual information. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

LOCATION All the visual texts shown in this poster were produced by children aged LOCATION All the visual texts shown in this poster were produced by children aged 11 years, involved with the Neve Yosef Community Center. This Center, belonging to the Israeli Association of Community Centers, serves a low socioeconomic, urban neighborhood in Haifa. The Neve Yosef Community Center, Haifa, Israel The local population consists of native born families (40%) and newcomers from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia (60%). Over the years, the Neve Yosef Community Center has become a leading exponent in the development of intercultural social interaction and equality in Israel. The staff strongly supports programs that encourage children to develop and enrich their range of visual literacies, helping them succeed in an education system that increasingly uses visual texts (book and electronic) for teaching. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

BACKGROUND Dr. Janet Gino’s personal background has played a significant role in her interest BACKGROUND Dr. Janet Gino’s personal background has played a significant role in her interest in multicultural visual literacies. Many years ago she also came to Neve Yosef as a newcomer, and like many of her neighbors she was able to access a range of cultural alternatives for making meaning of the world. Spending time with the local children, who like to work in same-culture groups, Dr. Gino was able to witness at first hand their interaction with visual images. Their enthusiasm, indifference or negative responses to the viewing and/or making of visual ideas and messages, prompted her to question the complex relationship between visual language and the cultural history of the child. A group of native born Israeli girls arranging information on road safety next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

THE RESOURCES Numerous visual information projects have been carried out at the Neve Yosef THE RESOURCES Numerous visual information projects have been carried out at the Neve Yosef Community Center. The same set of visual resources and equipment are always used paper, photocopied photographic segments (depending on the subject), writing and drawing tools. The photographic segments represent partial images of objects, structures, and familiar details, cut of context and set onto a white background. These are placed in separate transparent plastic files, each holding 15 -20 copies. The files are scattered at random on tables, in no order of subject matter. Most of the children feel comfortable working with these visual resources. They can be used to create a wide range of semiotic systems (visual and linguistic) and to construct a variety of different visual configurations. An example of the visual resources and equipment used in the visual information projects. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

VISUAL TEXTS The paths children take when making meaning with a set of given VISUAL TEXTS The paths children take when making meaning with a set of given materials, the way they use and manipulate words and photographs to make visual information, reflects on their social knowledges, motivations and interests. The theoretical framework used to analyze the children’s works is based on: 1) The socio-cultural constructionist perspective: regards children as social beings who understand/learn about the world through the socio-cultural environments in which they are nurtured. 2) The interpretative analysis of iconology: seeks to understand the meaning behind humankind’s art making and creative efforts. 3) Visual social semiotic theory: tracks the production of meaning by carefully unpicking the visual characteristics that make up a text, providing a descriptive framework that helps interpret meaningmaking as a cultural and historic process. Two examples from the ‘My Neighborhood’ project, produced by children aged 11 years. These texts represent two different identifiable ‘visual styles’ made by children living in the Neve Yosef neighborhood. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

COMPARISON OF TWO VISUAL STYLES (1) The ‘my neighborhood’ project involved many children from COMPARISON OF TWO VISUAL STYLES (1) The ‘my neighborhood’ project involved many children from the local community. They were given pencils, paper and photograph segments, and asked to make some information about the neighbourhood. No instructions were given, and guidance offered as to how to use the materials. The example below, with the neighbourhood observed from one viewpoint, has been arranged by a 11 year old boy from the former Soviet Union (FSU), four years in Israel. It can be seen that the visual text has been set out in accordance with the accepted convention for creating distance in three levels: top = background, middle ground, bottom = foreground. The visual elements, all placed in the same direction, are linked together in a spatial connectedness that joins these three levels together. The child demonstrates his understanding of perspective by the occlusion (blocked sight line) of the pedestrian crossing by the trees (lower left corner). From the large amount of visual texts produced in this visual style, i t is possible to make a list of rules that most of the children from the FSU followed: Set the information in a rectangular, ‘landscape’ format. Divide the page up into three sections to correspond with perspective – far, near and nearer. Integrate pencil drawing with photographic segments. Add written insets as clues to help viewers understand the information. All visual elements placed in the same viewing direction Photo segments are extended with pencil line Visual elements lined up in three levels: background, middle ground and foreground Sign: ‘smoking forbidden in the community center’; helps map out the neighborhood for the viewer. White background cut off from photographic segments and ‘seamed’ together to make a new image Occlusion of pedestrian crossing NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il next

COMPARISON OF TWO VISUAL STYLES (2) The example on the right, with a multi-directional COMPARISON OF TWO VISUAL STYLES (2) The example on the right, with a multi-directional viewpoint, was produced by a 11 year old boy from Ethiopia, four years in Israel. To the Western eye there seems to be no clues as to how to ‘read’ the composition. None of the photographic segments have been cut or manipulated in any way; the white background remains intact, as found in the plastic files. A few children added partially drawn suns at the four corners of the page (see below). Name, written twice in same direction, could be an indicator of viewing direction No signs or clues are given to the viewer to help with ‘reading’ These compositional arrangements do not follow the ‘rules’ of Western picture making, so it is difficult for a viewer familiar with Western visualization to trace the information values that the children have given to their images. White background separates photographic segments From the large amount of visual texts produced in this visual style by children from Ethiopia, it is possible to find some common characteristics: The same type of ‘circular’ composition, no manipulation of photo segments, the ideational representation of a conceptual ‘neighborhood’. Multi-directional viewpoint No manipulation of the photo segments ‘circular’ type of composition next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

(1) Part of a 19 th Ethiopian protective, healing scroll. Parchment and ink. (2) (1) Part of a 19 th Ethiopian protective, healing scroll. Parchment and ink. (2) Soviet Socialist Realism: Aleksei Alexandrovich Vasilev ‘They are writing about us in Pravada’, 1951. Oil painting. DISCUSSION It is suggested that the decision-making process that guided both the boys whilst they made visual information about ‘my neighborhood’, was shaped by the social knowledges and cultural practices existing in each of their different family communities, which perhaps also reflected different worldviews, i. e. holistic, egocentric. An unexpected finding was the strong connection between the boy’s visual texts with the traditional visual culture of their family backgrounds. That is, their visual styles reflected codes and rules found in Ethiopian (1), and Soviet (2) visual representations, respectively. However, if children are to become makers of visual information, some might need more help than others in understanding how words, photographs and graphic elements work together to build a message. Dr. Gino examines the range of visual literacies children bring with them to elementary school in the ‘Oral Hygiene Project ’, which illustrates this point. For an example of multicultural visual communication that encourages visual literacies and creativity using new technologies, go to www. visualmeaning. com and click on ‘Through the Eyes’. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

1 2 3 Examples from some of the visual information projects carried out in 1 2 3 Examples from some of the visual information projects carried out in the Neve Yosef Community Center: 1) road safety; 2) producing word/picture stories; 3) learning about the visual language of photographs. CONCLUSION The notion of literacy has broadened as potentials for communication have widened. Today, texts combine words and photographs, sound and movement. Visual literacies are needed in the production of these texts, either on paper or on the screen. The visual information projects carried out in Neve Yosef have shown that children from different cultural backgrounds chose different paths when constructing visual meaning. All the paths are valid, and attempts should be made to nurture the various visual styles that reflect differing worldviews. However, the children live and learn in a society which communicates using specific historical and cultural visual rules. Attempts should be made to create projects that encourage all children to become effective and creative makers of visual information. next NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il

SUGGESTED READING: Bearne, E. and. Wolstencroft H. (2007) Visual approaches to teaching writing (book SUGGESTED READING: Bearne, E. and. Wolstencroft H. (2007) Visual approaches to teaching writing (book and electronic resource): multimodal literacy 5 -11. London: Paul Chapman. Bruner, J. and Haste, H. (eds. ) (1987) Making Sense. London and New York: Methuen. Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (2000) Multiliteracies. London: Routledge. Kozulin, A. (1998) Psychological Tools. Cambridge Mass. : Harvard University. Jewitt, C. (2005) Technology, literacy, learning. London: Routledge. Jewitt, Carey, Gunther Kress, Jon Ogborn and Charalampos Tsatsarelis. (2000) ‘Materiality as an Aspect in Learning’, in Zeitschrift fur Erziehungswissenschaft, 3 Jahrg. , Heft 2/2000, pp: 267 -284. Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (1996) Reading Images. London: Routledge. Kress, G. (2003) Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge. Ormerod, F. and Ivanic, R. (2002) ‘Materiality in children’s meaning-making practices’, in Visual Communication, 1(1), pp: 65 -91. Russell, G. (2000) ‘Print-Based and Visual Discourses in Schools: implications for pedagogy’, in Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 21(2), pp: 205 -217. Schirato, T. and Webb, J. (2004) Understanding the visual. London: Sage Publications. Unsworth, L. (2001) Teaching Multiliteracies Across the Curriculum. Buckingham: Open University Press. Wells, L. (1997) Photography: A critical Introduction. London: Routledge. back to start NEVE YOSEF COMMUNITY CENTER Dr. Janet Gino, Special Learning Programs 1 a, Harav Mashash St. , Haifa 32167 Tel: +972 4 8129200 Fax: +972 4 8227499 Email: [email protected] org. il