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The Power of the Image

Emotion, Expression, Explanation


András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

We think primarily in images, and only secondarily in words, while both the image and the word are preceded by the bodily, the visceral, the muscular. This holds even for mathematical thinking. It is the entire motor system, including facial expressions and bodily gestures, that underlies not just emotions but also abstract thought. Communication, too, is a primordially visual task, spoken and written language only gradually supplementing and even supplanting the pictorial. Writing liberates, but also enslaves; after centuries of a dominantly verbal culture, today the ease of producing and accessing digital images amounts to a homecoming of the visual, with the almost limitless online availability of our textual heritage completing the educational revolution of the 21st century.
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Visual Representation as Self-expression in Pedagogical Practice: Possible Explanations of Adolescents’ Symbol Drawings


Judit Hortoványi

Visual representation is a very comprehensive concept. It can have many different forms, such as a photograph, a diagram, an emblem, an assembly instruction, an advertisement and a pictogram or a traffic sign. In this paper a visual representation means a drawing or a painting.

Even if I restrict my investigation about drawings or paintings to the pedagogical context, it still remains a wide area. We can use these representations in education as an illustration. Drawings talk about history, geography, biology. In some cases pictures give us important information about society, about rules, about allowed or prohibited behaviour. Pictures are natural indicative denotations and they make our communicative system complete.1 In our cogitation the visual and the conceptual parts integrate each other. Pictures are able to convey such complex notions which the verbal is not. A picture, a drawing can be a way of communication. The two main parts of communication are the verbal and nonverbal. In education the verbal part is absolutely dominant; however, we can use drawings consciously as a tool of nonverbal communication.

The following pictures are illustrations of this statement (Figures 1–3). Figure 1 is a drawing by a Roma boy. He made it after an argument with the headmaster of the school. At first he was drawing this figure without eyes, but while he was making it, he gradually calmed down. At last he looked at his paper and said: “Wow, now see that this...

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