Kylie Neagle highlights how this resource is being used by teachers

The Curiosity cards are an invaluable resource and I plan to buy a set for each art teacher in our faculty!
Paul Pearce, Trinity College

Teaching children to think critically is paramount if our young people are to thrive in a rapidly changing and image-saturated world. Being thoughtful members of society, possessing the capacity to make informed judgements and, above all, recognising the importance of curiosity in questioning the status quo require that ‘secret ingredient’ – critical thinking. The capacity to analyse, interpret, evaluate and ultimately solve problems is essential to all learning areas, but before these higher-order thinking skills are acquired, students must become visually literate by learning how to look and how to read visual information. Robert Diyanni, author of Critical and creative thinking, claims that making sense of the world around begins with careful noticing and learning to see, all of which require patience, effort and practice. A work of art is the perfect vehicle with which to practise looking, with the aim of becoming more observant, and leading to greater understanding and a capacity to critique.

A self-guided visit can often be a daunting experience for students seeing works of art in situ, in some instances for the first time. Our ‘Curiosity cards’, a set of fifty-two palm-sized cards designed to promote critical and creative thinking, were developed by the Learning team to assist students in this process. This most popular and successful resource encourages ‘long looking’, resulting in students actively engaging with works of art, with ideas and with each other.

Paul Pearce, a visual arts teacher from Trinity College, recently visited the Gallery with his Year 9 students. During their visit, his students made use of the Curiosity cards in their extended contemplation of works of art. Paul selected the cards he hoped would assist in developing his students’ confidence to respond critically to works of art, at the same time recognising that visiting the Gallery and using the cards is a far more effective method for examining works of art than viewing reproductions in books or online.

How Paul used the Curiosity cards

Paul’s selection of Curiosity cards involved essential critical thinking concepts, requiring students to slow down their looking and observe, question, clarify, support their ideas with evidence, evaluate and reflect.

#48 Make a list of as many words you can think of that are associated with art. Play a round robin game with each person sharing a different word.

#1 With a partner discuss what is happening in this work of art. List some questions you may have about the subject matter or questions you would ask the artist.

#41 Select a work of art. Consider each of the five senses and design a sensory experience. What sound, taste, touch and smell elements would you select to accompany this work of art.

After lunch, students then used a final card to complete the exercise.

#52 Go back to the first work of art you looked at today. What did you notice about the work of art that you didn’t before? What questions do you have now that you didn’t have before?

This encouraged students to reconsider the works, through careful noticing and re-looking, thus ‘practising’ the hallmarks of critical thinking.

Curiosity cards are available for purchase at the Gallery Store.

Kylie is Education Officer at AGSA, a position supported by the Government of South Australia through the Department for Education. This article first appeared in AGSA Magazine Issue 34, 2019.