Unit 3: Questioning images: representation and critical visual literacy

The aim of this unit is to provide you with some teaching ideas and methodologies to develop your learners’ critical visual literacy, a very important ‘global citizenship’ skill to have in the 21st century. We are surrounded by images, from photographs in newspapers and magazines to videos on television and social media; they are fundamental in how we perceive and interpret the world around us. Images shape our attitudes towards certain groups in society, while reinforcing some aspects of our own identities. One of the main objectives of this unit is to encourage an active and critical engagement with images, so we can avoid becoming passive consumers of them. The resources included in this unit have been carefully chosen, especially in terms of their capacity to challenge ethnocentric views and foster multiple perspectives. The activities themselves are designed to take your learners (ages 14-17) out of their comfort zone, thus allowing them to consider alternative representations of the world. Developing critical visual literacy is an ongoing process rather than an end in itself. This unit is an invitation to see the world differently, which can continue beyond the classroom.

Learning Objectives

  1. Values n.3: Promote learners’ sense of responsibility for challenging exclusionary and stereotypical visual representations both locally and globally.
  2. Attitudes n.5: Enable learners to engage with sensitive and controversial topics related to visual representation.
  3. Knowledge n.1, 2 & 3: Increase learners’ awareness of how visual representation operates in society and its relationship with issues of power, discrimination, and exclusion.
  4. Skills n.2: Develop learners’ ability to engage in the critical analysis of visual representation in everyday life.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Values n.3, 5 & 9: Embrace critical visual literacy as a way of challenging exclusionary and stereotypical visual representations of different groups in society.
  2. Attitudes n.3: Acknowledge the importance of reflecting on their own visual practices and ways of seeing the world.
  3. Knowledge n.1, 2 & 3: Understand how different groups in society are visually represented, the reasons behind such representations, and their effect on people’s lives and society at large.
  4. Skills n.1, 2 & 3: Question practices of visual exclusion as well as stereotypical forms of visual representation.

Teaching materials

Download the teaching materials as a Word or PDF document.

Domain specific teaching materials

To allow teachers of all subjects to incorporate our materials into their teaching, we have adapted several activities to include exercises that are also suitable for subjects other than English, such as biology or geography. The following documents include domain specific activities for all five units of this project. Download the domain specific teaching materials as a Word or PDF document.