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Simple global learning idea: Optical illusions

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Simple global learning idea: Optical illusions

23 November, 2017

Some things can look very different if we just take the time to stop and view them from another angle. Optical illusions are a fantastic (and fun!) way to illustrate this to pupils, particularly if you are about to explore a complex topic, like migration, on which there are many varied perspectives.

Being able to recognise and understand different world views - and the underlying assumptions behind them - is an important skill, sometimes referred to as critical literacy.


Find some illusions to look at with your class. Below are a few suggestions, some of which we use at our own global learning training days.

Vase or faces?

Eskimo in cave or man’s face?

Rabbit or duck?

Young or old woman?

You can find a lot more simply by googling ‘optical illusion’.

Whichever ones you pick, print them out and then put them on the wall during class. Look at each image in turn and ask pupils what they see. Maybe even take a vote to find out how many see the image one way and how many see it the other. Can some pupils switch between the two different views?

Explain there are no wrong answers. After all, everyone will see the world slightly differently and all knowledge is partial and incomplete. Once you’ve looked at all the illusions, you could encourage pupils to unpack their feelings further. Perhaps get them to think about what might influence how they personally view things: does where they live, what they read, who they are friends, etc, affect their personal perspective in any way?

Resources to Support Classroom Practice and a Whole School Approach

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