We propose a hypothetical visual field overlap (VFO) model for shoaling behavior. While solitary individuals have the disadvantage of a substantial blind zone to their rear, the overlapping visual fields among shoal members allows the shoal to collectively view nearly 360°. A highly polarized shoal (i.e., a school) would be less advantageous than randomly oriented shoals because a substantial area blind to all school members (common blind zone) would occur at some distance behind the school. However, in situations where fishes must orient in one direction, the visual fields of individuals in the school overlap such that the common blind zone is considerably farther behind than the blind zone of any particular fish. A simple geometric relationship between school width, the blind angle, and the distance to the common blind zone predicts that larger schools can detect predators at a greater distance than smaller schools. Additionally, the model provides a novel explanation for the nearly universally observed tendency for fish to school together with like-sized individuals. Finally, the effect of school shape on the visual field overlap pattern would have a strong impact on predator–prey interactions. However, our model does not directly take into account the range of visibility or social interaction affects and applies only to small groups. The VFO model suggests that schooling may have arisen as an adaptation to enhance feeding efficiency by reducing the need for individual vigilant behavior while oriented into the current for feeding. We believe the VFO model promises to provide insight into the behavioral ecology of shoaling fishes and that it is highly amenable to both field and laboratory testing.