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How to Do Things with Pictures

Skill, Practice, Performance


Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

Pictorial meaning involves not just resemblance, but also pictorial skills, pictorial acts, practices, and performance. Especially in the classroom setting, at all levels of education, it is essential to realize that teaching with pictures and learning through pictures is a practical enterprise where thinking is embedded in doing. Promoting visual learning means to be a visionary, and to take on an enormous educational challenge. But while adaptation and innovation are inevitable in a world where technological changes are rapidly and radically altering the learning environment, educational science and the everyday practice of education clearly need to retain a measure of conservatism. And any conservatism worth the name has to take account of visuality, visual thinking, and visual learning.


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Images in Conservative Education. Kristóf Nyíri


Images in Conservative Education Kristóf Nyíri Conservatism is a perennial human attitude and a constantly present cultural fac- tor. As a consciously held theory it was however not formulated before the eighteenth century, and the expression “conservatism” itself was not in use be- fore the 1830s. In the second section of this paper, under the heading “The Meaning of Conservatism”, I will attempt both to convey a general idea of con- servatism as well as to give a brief characterization of its three main historical phases: premodern, modern, and postmodern. Especially in its modern and post- modern phases, conservatism is tormented by paradoxes. My ultimate aim in the paper will be to show that these paradoxes dissolve once the dominance of, and the exclusive focus on, verbal communication is supplanted by allotting a proper role to the pictorial – to mental and physical images, and to visual thinking. Set- ting the stage for my argument, in the first section below I offer some glimpses of the vastly rich literature, extending well back into the nineetenth century, on the visual mind – the visual as accompanying, or even serving as the basis of, the verbal, and as accompanied, or even based on, the motor. In the third sec- tion, drawing in particular on the ideas of the liberal-conservative thinker F. A. von Hayek, I will describe the main dimensions of what might be called a con- servative concept of knowledge, characterizing knowledge as local, dispersed, and embedded in practice. The implications...

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