Visual Thinking Strategies

Teachers using visual thinking strategy techniques to create deeper conversations around artwork

Ten teachers from Victorian Independent schools are training in a teaching method that helps students develop new ways to learn through art. The teachers will be trained in Visual Thinking Strategies at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, bringing their skills back to run workshops at next May’s Arts Learning Festival. The teachers will also use their skills in their schools.

VTS is a discussion-based teaching method to help students decode and explore art.


In a typical session, students are given time to look an artwork before being asked three questions: ‘What’s going on in this picture?’, ‘What do you see that makes you say that?’, ‘What more can we find?’


These questions prompt a journey of discovery for children, of making sense of what they see. They gain confidence in speaking and the ability to listen respectfully to other points of view.


They also develop literacy and analytical skills that can be used across all subjects, from social studies to science.


You can read more and watch a video about how the method is used at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


The teachers awarded the Independent Schools Victoria scholarships are:


  • Charlotte Forwood,  Camberwell Girls’ Grammar School
  • Laura Dascoli, Casey Grammar School
  • Nicola Morrish, Christian College Geelong
  • Nadine Lineham, Gippsland Grammar
  • Deryck Greenwood, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School
  • Alison Norman,  Shelford Girls’ Grammar
  • Michael Kapadia, Sirius College
  • Heather Landman,  St Margaret’s School
  • Jean Lyons, The Good Shepherd Lutheran Primary
  • Birra-Li Ward, Woodleigh School

The VTS approach was developed in the 1980s in the United States of America by Abigail Housen, a cognitive psychologist, and Philip Yenawine, former director of education at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.