Education can be a touchy topic. No ones likes curriculum, testing is flawed, standards are lower, and classes and breaks are being cut. It seems impossible to combat the system for change, but through all of the garbage happening in schools there is still hope for good education. Teachers are finding ways to help their students learn, even if it’s unconventional.

Visual learning methods aren’t limited to classrooms.

The great thing about visual learning is that you can use these methods whether you’re a teacher, boss, employee, student, or parent. Even to this day I remember my teachers’ illustrations and visual learning methods, and the same methods could be applied anywhere.

In fourth grade we had to learn all 50 states and their capitals. That’s a lot of information for a 10 year old, and I’d bet most American adults could get through half correctly. However, as an adult I still remember everything because of the visual and auditory cues my teacher used to help us learn. The chances of the information sticking is exponentially increased when you present the information in different ways. Whether you’re an auditory, kinetic, or visual learner makes no difference– everyone benefits when information is presented in multiple ways.

I specifically remember how Boston is the capital of Massachusetts. My BOSS weighs a TON and is a MESSY CHEWER. We drew a picture of a large man in a tie with a big mouth full of food. Every student had 50 index cards with similar drawings on one side and the information on the back to help us remember. 4th grade was over 18 years ago for me… I’d say the method worked!

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Later on in 8th grade art class, we had to memorize famous paintings, the artist, the date, style or era, and other info. My teacher used some sing-song phrases to help us remember some information, but I mostly remember the ways he told us to search for the information within the paintings themselves. Check out a few of the examples:

Nighthawks, Edward Hopper, painted in 1942. Cues: The painting is set at NIGHTtime, there are FOUR people and TWO coffee HOPPERS.

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Sunday Afternoon on the Island of le Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, painted around 1886. Cues: Surat “the dot” (pointillism), the date which can be found in the figures.

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American gothic, Grant Wood, painted 1930. Cues: THREE tines on the pitchfork and the farmer’s head makes a ZERO.

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In my 10th grade history class, we had to memorize amendments to the Bill of Rights. My teacher used some great drawings to help us remember each one, but I will never forget amendment 8, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The drawing to remember it? As my teacher put it, one cruel and unusual punishment was driving nails into a barrel, putting someone in the barrel, and rolling them down the hill. The drawing was 2 barrels on top of each other (forming a figure 8) with little nails driven into them.

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Visualizing information doesn’t have to be groundbreaking- it just has to be memorable.

Illustrating information can help you learn names, important information, dates, lectures, and more. Are you a business owner or boss? Think of ways to illustrate your mission statement, company goals or values so your employees are familiar and can remember it. Student? Draw out your next test’s materials instead of highlighting it. Are you a parent? Help your kids remember their address or phone number with pictures! Do you have trouble remembering someone’s name? Write their name and make a picture out of it! The possibilities are endless.


Takeaways:

My challenge to you is to figure out a way to work in illustration into your life no matter what you do or where you are. Drawing can have a tremendous impact on your life and those you influence!

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