What we teach and why we teach it.

Thoughts and ideas need to be externalised in order to create the neural pathways necessary for innovative, imaginative minds. When we talk and think in words we generate ideas that are sequential and linear.

When we draw our ideas and think in pictures, we generate ideas that are non-sequential, place-based and connected in multiple ways.


This program looks into the neuroscience of vision; how the brain sees and how it organises itself for cognitive, behavioural and imaginative outcomes. The visual mind is the seat of the imagination. The visual brain takes up almost 40% of our brain mass. Our brains store predominately visual data. Being able to use this data by “exercising” diverse regions of the brain is what makes us more imaginative, more creative and ultimately more innovative.

As the visual system works in conjunction with imagination and the formation of new ideas we look at relevant networks in the brain responsible for both process driven thought but also new connections in the brain that aid creativity.


Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of images, diagrams, animations and other schematics, extending the meaning of literacy, which commonly signifies interpretation of a written or printed text.

Visual language systems are much broader than other language models and being visually literate makes for more accurate, well rounded judgement.

The term “visual literacy” is credited to John Debes, co-founder of the International Visual Literacy Association. In 1969 Debes offered a tentative definition of the concept: “Visual literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences.”


Visual perception forms a pillar in our ability to interpret the world around us. It also limits it.

To be imaginative and creative we need to see things in new ways. This program illustrates the predictable blocks that inhibit imagination in order that we may move past them. This program plants the seeds for Critical Thinking.

In order to cope with the shear amount of information we encounter and to speed up the decision-making process, our brains rely on mental strategies to simplify things, short-cuts if you like, we call these heuristics. Common visual biases block our potential for seeing more possibilities.


The ability to think in pictures, make new connections, externalise them via visual art, symbolism and metaphor primes our brain to connect abstract associations. Those new associations can be seen as new thinking, new thinking creates new possibilities.

This program is an exercise for the imagination. The benefits transcend art-making and flows into other possibilities. Indigenous Australians have a unique and sophisticated way of interrelating language, symbolism, narrative and metaphor. These skills aid the development of imaginative thinking.

This course is a fusion of 8 interconnected Aboriginal pedagogies along with traditional Western methods of symbolic thinking.


Visual note-taking/mapping is the most efficient way to encode information. Thinking in pictures and drawing relationships fuses knowledge and understanding. Vision is our dominant sense and we constantly create visual images in the brain that strengthen imagination skills.

Seeing & moving ideas around as symbols (visual-spatial) is a learned practice. It is done both in the mind and on the page.’s concept is unique in that we use visual art as a basis for the programs and activities. Though we do not teach traditional practices of visual art, or Aboriginal culture - we use visual strategies as pedagogy to help people become more creative & imaginative, employing abstract visual spatial techniques through visual learning maps.


Lateral thinking is difficult for most westerners as we’re not taught to think this way. Lateral thinking is non-linear. When we talk and think in words we generate ideas that are sequential and linear. When we draw our ideas and think in pictures, we generate ideas that are non-sequential, place-based and connected in multiple ways.

This is critical for the imagination and underscores place-based methodologies which are inherent for many Aboriginal people. Place-based (spatial) mechanisms help us understand concepts more broadly. It should be noted these same mechanisms underpin creative thinking. This is a valuable knowledge exchange for all Australians. Young and old, neurodiverse, Indigenous and non- Indigenous.


Storyboarding is a visual skill. Overall people have far greater clarity about what the problem really is if they can see it.

Storyboarding is also used to distil ideas into concentrated forms allowing emergent ideas to spring from them. This process helps with another Aboriginal Method “De-Construction/Re-Construction”. Stories, oral and visual can then be utilised for learning, communication, sequencing and structuring.

Storyboarding enables us to process ideas and rearrange concepts into individual logical structures. Moving ideas around a page creates a coherent narrative or plan by breaking down complex scenarios into smaller, more manageable parts.


Vision is our dominant sense and how we predominately make sense of our experiences. Aboriginal people use their senses for knowledge. Modern science has learned the value of old traditions such as meditation and sensory perception in the development of imagination and original thinking. If our minds are constantly processing information, we never get a chance to let our imagination develop.

Studies exploring the phenomenology of “unfocused attention” highlight the importance of its role in meta-cognition and importantly, imagination. The experience of mind wandering, daydreaming or engaging in unfocused attention helps us to switch from a current task to unrelated thoughts and feelings. This is critical for building new neural pathways in unique ways – imagination.


Abstract thinking is the ability to think about objects, principles, and ideas that are not physically present nor visible. It is related to symbolic thinking, which uses the substitution of a symbol for an object or idea.

Abstract thinking makes it possible for people to exercise creativity. Creativity, in turn, is a useful survival mechanism and a 21st century skill.

Abstract Thinking is imagination in action think “What is possible” even though I can’t see it or define it yet. It’s not even conclusive but an expanding potentiality. Working on abstract reasoning skills improves our ability to solve problems, understand and communicate complex ideas, and develop creativity.