Robin Sabo

Visual Literacy 101: What's in a Picture?

January 27, 2022 By Robin Sabo

As a geography teacher, I often started the year with a lesson about how to lie with maps. In this lesson, I would expose the students to challenges with map distortions, like the Mercator map making Greenland appear to be the same size as all of South America, how changes in scale impact perception, or how colors can create a dramatic impression even when the data behind the shading is not. During the lesson, students frequently noted that similar issues occur in other ways information is represented visually, such as with data, photographs, or artwork. At this point students would often ask, “So how do you keep from getting deceived or misdirected by information and the way it is presented visually?” My answer: by applying visual literacy skills.