What Do You Notice?

A newly published book, Visual Intelligence, by art historian and lawyer Amy E. Herman sheds light on the power of observation as an invaluable tool in all types of careers. Ms. Herman has created a career based on her love of art and used it to improve the skills of law enforcement and future doctors. After running a course for a decade that has taken police officers and medical students into art galleries of New York City to study paintings to hone observational skills, Ms. Herman now writes about these experiences and suggests (too frequently) that they are applicable to all professions. If you can get past the first person accounts of how she has or hasn’t noticed things in her life through her glamorous world travels and if you can overlook her often incomplete and perfunctory-seeming explanation of the science underlying her work, this book is an excellent tool for all students. Of particular note: high school students exposed to this type of observational study went on to have higher standardized test scores. Do you think of yourself as a good observer? Do you notice details that others may miss? How do you think observational skills may be helpful in improving your academic performance? Or on the job performance?