Observation Based Discussions

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About Observation-Based Discussions:

Observation-Based Discussions encourage students to look carefully at works of art, talk about what they observe, back up their ideas with evidence, listen to and consider the views of others, and discuss multiple interpretations.   The emphasis of these discussions is on the students' becoming comfortable looking and thinking critically in regards to art, rather than on learning facts about the artwork itself.  Yet, the discussions  do foster a desire in the student to learn more about the focus artwork and about art in general, leading them to ask questions, read labels and other information about artwork, compare and contrast artworks, and discuss artworks with others of their own volition.

The Observation-Based Discussions at the MGMoA are based on the Visual Thinking Strategies developed by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine.   This process enhances students’ skills of observing carefully, thinking deeply, expressing themselves, and listening; is proven to work with all students, including disadvantaged youth; and, builds cognition through art that is applied in other subjects.  It also enhances students' critical thinking skills by promoting good thinking behaviors:  making complex observations, drawing conclusions, expressing and articulating ideas in discussion and in writing, considering a range of possibilities, revising, elaborating, and applying these behaviors to new situations without prompting.

Additional information about Visual Thinking Strategies is available at www.vue.org


Observation-Based Discussions at the MGMoA:

Observation-Based Discussions last about 15 minutes per artwork.  Each discussion includes a few minutes just for looking and several minutes of discussion.

Observation-Based Discussions can be the primary focus of a group visit, or can be included as part of a guided tour or self-guided tour, or as a component of any student program.  In these cases, a museum educator or the visiting teacher may facilitate the discussions, whichever is preferred.  When scheduling a field trip, please notify the Curator of Education that you would like for your students to participate in Observation-Based Discussions during their visit.


Students participating in Observation-based discussion.


Questions or Comments?  Please contact the MGMoA Education Department.

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