Visual instruction, as a movement, has its roots in the efforts of reformist educators and theorists, who revolted against formalism and verbalism in educational practice during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and sought to emphasize the role of the senses in learning. Although the term visual instruction did not evolve until 1906, many developments and trends were already crystallizing into a distinctly new movement in American education.

The visual instruction movement sought to emphasize the role of the senses in learning. The movement was characterized initially by the use of common educational apparatuses such as timepieces, maps and globes, slates and blackboards, and textbooks. Later, the introduction of film led to the formation of organizations and distribution channels within school districts, universities, and state bureaus ...

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