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The Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is the result of more than 20 years of collaborations between cognitive psychologists, educators and researcher, exploring how viewers think when looking at art objects. According to Visual Understanding in Education, “VTS has influenced the landscape of education in schools and museums around the world, reaching over 1 million students in 33 states and 18 countries through more than 5,000 educators in more than 300 schools and 100 museums”.

VTS transforms the way students think and learn, in the perspective of a culture capable of listening and building a community of open-minded and thoughtful citizens, promoting an attitude of tolerance towards diversity and problems that affect young people.

Some feelings and perceptions are best expressed through art, and VTS encourage the exploration of the young people’s everyday life using creative approaches.

One of the major issues that needs to be addressed more is certainly bullying.

According to the National Centre Against Bullying, “the definition of bullying is when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond”.

VTS is a fantastic tool for use in the classroom to raise awareness that bullying happens all around us. It will help teachers and educators to encourage young people to talk, using discussion as a key tool for learning to think, trough communication, connection and cooperation. Moreover, VTS promote perspective taking skills and empathy, developing strategies together, increasing self-knowledge and esteem.

But, why an arts-based approach?

Young people have a very active emotional center. As the University of Iowa reported in its Arts-Based Bullying Prevention Activities, “arts-based programs can appeal more to the emotional reactions to bullying, and focusing on the emotional response to bullying will help reduce bullying behavior”. It is important that all teachers, at every scholastic level, open their horizons to strategies such as the one proposed by the VTS.

VTS is able to lift the spirit of the school as only arts can do. VTS builds confidence and community. It enhances language, communication, and inquiry skills.

With VTS, everyone is a winner.

It is a breath of fresh air. Are you ready for it?

The project Visualize: An innovative training concept for strengthening the tolerance and soft skills of young people, addresses especially these skills by equipping the youngsters with tolerance and overall soft skills by looking at art and responding to each others comments.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Our Partners

  • Christliches Jugenddorfwerk Deutschlands gemeinnütziger e.V.
  • Institut für Visuelle Bildung
  • Center for Development and Education
  • Best Cybernetics
  • Fundacion Intras