When analyzing art, students must make inferences and decisions based on what they see and feel. One image may be interpreted in a myriad of ways, and that is a wonderful thing. When looking at a work of art with students, you may prompt a conversation by asking specific questions and/or playing devil’s advocate. For example, one of my images, Looking Though the Keyhole, you may ask what the girl is feeling as she peers into the room. Follow up responses with clarifying questions are crucial: “Is she afraid, or determined? How do you know? What does she see on the other side of the door? What about the shadow? Who or what is it? Can you defend your answer?” Your objective should be to facilitate a lively debate among students. The concept that students have to ‘defend their answer’ relates to supporting details in their writing. If they are going to make statements, they have to back them up with specifics, and hopefully those specifics are based in logic and reason.
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