In Classical education, Slow Looking is more than a skill for art class. It develops the process that prepares students for deeply and thoroughly understanding whatever they are faced with, exploring solutions, and solving problems. This is a valued and rare skill in a society typically untrained in the requirements of deep-thinking.
What Is Slow Looking? (Why Do We Teach It?)
The artist Albert Bierstadt was one of the Early American Hudson River School artists who went into the American West when it was new to us. He painted small sketches of the scenes he saw and then came back to the East Coast and painted enormous canvases that were highly detailed and highlighted the beauty of the country beyond the Mississippi River.
When you first look at a Bierstadt painting, you might just feel that you are looking at a landscape of a pretty scene. But the longer you look, you realize that he has sprinkled many things in his paintings that you would not notice with a quick glance: a cabin, a teepee, a canoeist on a lake, and so on. It can be enjoyed as a landscape painting, but when you take the time to discover, it becomes a whole new experience.
Yosemite Valley Yellowstone Park, Landscape, Painted by Albert Bierstadt
Looking slowly at artwork, a piece of literature, a poem, a math problem, etc., is a key distinctive of what we do at Faith Christian School. We understand that taking time to look at less, but look at it deeply, has tremendous benefits. This deep seeing is what we call Slow Looking.
The purpose is to train students to become skilled at noticing details that others would gloss over in haste. They learn to sit with something, come back to it, and expect more than a momentary response. These students develop a skill that is uncommon in our culture today.
This skill leads to insights, realizations, connections, and even inventions that might have never occurred without taking the time to look deeply and think deeply.
- Scott Maynard, Art Teacher at Faith Christian School