Tag Archives: constructivism

Visual Thinking Strategy

A VTS Discussion with First Grade Students from Visual Thinking Strategies on Vimeo.

(source) In his 1997 article Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as:

“…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and affective aspects of knowing are equally important.”

The three fundamental questions of Visual Thinking Strategy:


Abigail Housen and, later partnered with Yenawine, structure a theory of development around the experience of art. It has become popular as a basis for pedagogy in some schools, in many museums, and, as a foundational practice for art teachers and docents. (See: VTS Basic Manual: Learning To Think And Communicate Through Art; Housen, and Theory into Practice: The Visual Thinking Strategies, Yenawine. The latter article is available at VTShome.

VTS is very close to being in alignment with my own artmaking ethos, except it is missing the body. The body in this case is the viewing subject.

Here are four questions that could restore the body in the process of aesthetic inquiry:

(1) What do your findings feel like as emotions?

(2) What do your findings feel like in your body?

(3) Characterize your sense of your own experience?

(4) What are you doing to understand your experience?

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A Myth of Isolation and a Fairy Tale of Causation

The notion of the individual entity having agency is confused by a paradox. The confusion lies with the idea of individuation. The entity (organism, person, or organization) is bound to its unique perspective or epistemology, and in that sense is identifiable as a separate source of responsibility. But, there is no aspect of that entity that is uninfluenced, uninformed, or unbound to the larger contextual interactions. On closer examination we begin to see that agency is diffused into the larger contextual processes that are shared by the entire community. Agency is a paradoxical product of mutual learning within and between people, nature, and culture.

Leadership does not reside in a person but in an arena that can be occupied by offerings of specific wisdom to the needs of the community. So leadership is produced collectively in the community, not the individual. The individual’s responsibility is to be ready and willing to show up, serve, and then, most importantly, stand back. Leadership for this era is not a role or a set of traits; it’s a zone of interrelational process. Step in, step out.






Context transcends causality.
Causality transmits content.
‘A Content’ turns over to reveal ‘an’ other side.
This other side reveals a hidden context.
Do this over and over.

example of inferring causality from content:


Context is hard. Contexts are much harder.

(Semi) Final test:

Ford Clitaurus from MP Cunningham on Vimeo.

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Thick Over Thin, Beyond the Need to Know, Deep Digging

Stephen Calhoun artist

twitter meme series via @sq1learning aiming to cause thinking/feeling

If one wants to get to the absolute bottom of something, presumably for many kinds of human somethings, the journey to reach the bottom will:

(1) take time
(Rule of thumb: if it seems like it will take too much time, you’re at the start of the right path)

[paradoxical dialectic #1]
(2) demand suspension of reactions
(3) cause encounters which elicit antipathy and sympathy

(4) require configuration of viable abductions at ‘ripe’ waystations (during the journey)

[paradoxical dialectic #2]
(5) be advantaged by one feeling through one’s self feeling through the subject
(6) be advantaged by enacted agency removed from the subject’s ideology/personal culture

(7) be advantaged by researcher’s understanding of the imposition provided by their own ideology

(8) be completed by the invocation and instantiation of negative capability

These dispositional elements support deliberate knowing (learning) and stand against the varieties of thin approaches, each of which is anchored in a singular routine to obtain, ‘not really needing to know much more than I can easily know without spending more time, and certainly not challenging myself to learn more–beyond where I habitually like to stop learning.’

(Substitute satisfyingly for habitually to capture the reflexive certainty, “know enough already, thank you!” Enough is equivalent to knowing all one needs to know.

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Revisualizing the Experiential Learning Cycle of David A. Kolb (I.)

Nested Learning Cycle of Stephen Calhoun (after David A. Kolb)

This remix mashes typological ideas with a meta-schema based in nesting. (See note [A].)

I’ve been pondering the hidden polar dynamics of the learning cycle of my friend, colleague and softball teammate David Kolb. By definition those implicit yet ‘out of sight’ dynamics are anchored by various factors which instantiate or otherwise ramify dialectical, or dichotomous, or sensible polarities, or novel pairings.

These wanderings then approach the schema, of which there is a normative schema that shows the basic layout of pairings, and, as well, by way of exclusion, hides all the others. For example. there would be, in what would be a meta-schema, the crucial polarity of learner |- – – -|environment. This specific relation is dialectical in the broad context given by a, or any, constructivist model.

There’s no reason those hidden relations cannot be pinned to the normative schema. Heck, the views on offer here are of non-normative schemas, and so supplemental pairings may be pinned to these too!

Stephen Calhoun Transformative Learning Cycle

This remix suggests the learning cycle may be negotiated in micro phases. (See note [B])

This is why I have been thinking about this stuff:

Generating Paradox. Overt and Covert Polarities in Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle
Given the theoretical-conceptual architecture of Kolb’s Learning Cycle, fascinating yet obscured conceptual relations subsist within the dynamic move from the organismic systematic theory to its application as a theory-in-use/applied model.
This interactive, experiential presentation teases out some of those relations by leveraging both the explicit dialectical relations in the normative model, and co-existing, emergent, yet hidden polar relations discoverable elsewhere nearbye.
In this peeling away of layers of the conceptual ‘onion,’ two gains are anticipated: one, the active learner will experience reasons for de-reifying applied aspects of learning style, and, two, the learner may be inspired to expand his or her own experiential learning model’s practical reach.
This presentation is designed to be experiential and interactive. Participants may maximize the experience by having at hand five pieces of blank paper, scissors, and a fine marker or bold pen.
Stephen Calhoun is an independent researcher, experiential toolmaker, learning partner of Experience-based Learning Systems, and perpetual student.

Quarterly Virtual Presentation – The Experiential Learning Community of Practice
March 12, 2015 – 4:00pm EST

[Note A] In my model, taken from the Kolb model, Intentionality is necessarily the initial and initializing point of entry into learning. This intention holds Concrete Experience. Its import is imparted by the learner’s appropriation of a motive to learn for his or her own reasons, in his or her own context. This Intention is derived from the learner’s FEEL for what is right for him or her.

My model is in a critical relation with Dr. Kolb’s view. For me, Concrete Experience, is: present sensemaking contextualized by the learner’s motivating, evaluative Feeling.

[Note B] Negotiation in a micro phase means that a learner navigates the entire learning cycle in a background micro operation at different macro phases of the normative learning cycle. One benefit of this suggestion is that it supports a phenomenological entry for intuition into the macro cycle and does so in a particular sense by implying that the entire cycle might be navigated instantaneously, or, alternately, that the cycle might constitute something like a non-linear cascade (a) at this micro phase level.

(a) Patricia Smith Churchland and Paul M. Churchland, “Neural Worlds and Real Worlds,” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 3
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