20 SES 04, Inclusion Related to Innovation; Bringing Arts Like Photo and Music and Online Learning Environments into Play
Taking pictures into the classroom to learn about myself, my culture, and those of others is a quite obvious move in teaching: Pictures are considered to display things in a somehow ‘holistic’ and self-explanatory way. Even when considered as staged, constructed, or highly selective in what is shown, their ‘face value’ ensures learners about the topic taught. Luckily, school teachers already are and still get more and more sensitive of the use of visuals and its narrations, which means that visuals are no longer mere illustrations to stated facts. Moreover, visuals are considered to bear witness of experiences that can hardly be verbalised. (See for example the mass of pictures spread over the world to establish narratives of refugees and flight to Europe.) Using methods like photo voice, researchers learn to ‘read’ experiences captured in pictures as ‘talkative’ source for a better interpretive understanding of world that might be fruitful in classroom settings, too. This led to the thinking in the presented project here, in which we work with future teachers on the method and didactic impact of photo voice.
The process of taking pictures requires an examination of the current setting and situation and therefore involves the photographer in a form of re-assessment of his*her daily life. The photo device helps to focus on chosen aspects, to focus on something that is considered essential when presenting ones own life to others. The camera is a device set between individuals and their surroundings to distance yourself from situations. At the same time the technical device (especially those easy to use ones we have nowadays) might help to give voice to those who are not heard in other ways, to those who might not posses the elaborated voice in discourses, being excluded; thus visuals might help to create different and more inclusive spaces for people at the margins of societies. The pictures taken display the position of the photographer to his*her surroundings – and in this sense the photographs give an impression of the self-understanding and self-positioning turning those two into re-presentations of life to share with others.
It is the part of narration in and through photography that is at the core of the proposed paper. To understand photography as form of narration helps to conceptualise pictures as uttering of practices beyond their visual impression. The approach in this paper is to foster different ways revising otherness through visuals and therefore help to conceptualise more inclusive classroom spaces. To outline some uses of photography in classroom settings to empower students to communicate and exchange experiences beyond spoken language is the first step taken here. But in teaching practices, the narrative approach to visuals entails some serious reflections: Teachers are (more or less) aware of methods to decode visual sources and how to teach them. Methodological approaches like ‘doing (visual) culture’ through photo voice that are considered to give insights into everyday practices and understandings of sociocultural living challenge teaching in a different way: How to teach those approaches without giving away the surplus on ‘authenticity?’ The act of teaching, its didactics, its presentation to learning individuals might contradict the ‘real-life-approach’ and feeling of intuitive practices that was meant to outline a way to more inclusive perspectives. But (how) can we ensure to collect narrations and narratives in pictures taken by non-professionals? Is it possible to teach ‘authenticity in the field’? What is needed to use innovative methods to create inclusive classroom settings? How –if at all– is it possible to overcome normalised narrations to produce individual narratives or even ‘couternarratives?’
The paper is based on teaching experiences on the one hand and theoretical reflections on the other. Students in teacher education are asked to collect visual data including taking photographs with digital devices, they are given the possibility to edit the pictures later, and prepare a presentation. Parallel, the students try to reflect what they did and how they produced their visuals. The focus on reflection of visual practices then helps to produce instructions that again might help future students to use photo voice as an approach to their everyday life. The theoretical focus on concepts of narration and narrating helps to develop methods to present and ‘talk’ about visual representations in non verbal ways. Here we refer to visual studies, its concepts of visual representations and possible readings of viewers. The kind of ‘participatory teaching’ future teachers develop here needs some clarification on ethical aspects, too: the participants work in the project voluntarily, which means that there is a need of informed consent and its renewal in different stages of the project. This also includes a very carefully undertaken work with the pictures and presentations by all people involved to ensure comfortable settings to all. On the other hand the photographers must be aware of their responsibility against the persons and objects in their pictures, too. Future teachers must be aware of those implications and how to address them strategically when using photo voice to approach narrations and narratives. As taking pictures always is about making choices on content, framing, perspective other more, the process includes ‘reading’ pictures and develop and ‘interpretive understanding’ on visual data. It is part of the analysis to identify gazes and learned or even embodied visual regimes. The methodological framework therefore employs interpretations of all participants to develop a collective understanding of key aspects of daily practices; that later enables the students to re-evaluate their own and re-consider other representations. At the same time aspects of teaching the ways to find an ‘authentic’ expression are considered and discussed to elaborate teaching methods.
The purpose of this paper is to shine some light on theoretical, methodological, and didactical challenges of photo voice as a way to more inclusive spaces: To understand photography as form of narration helps to conceptualise pictures as uttering of practices beyond their visual impression that could be used in classroom settings to ‘talk’ about diversity and inclusive thinking. If inclusion and participation in society and culture is the overarching aim of education in schools, teachers must not only provided their students with a certain amount of literacy and knowledge but enable them to distance themselves from ‘local players’ to gain new perspectives and to be able to reflect what they experienced in a given situation. The claim for reflection and self-reflection is to enable questioning of the given to create inclusive settings with an awareness of diversity, differences and appreciation of variety. Education in times of social and cultural inclusion needs to take into account the histories and experiences of students, their social and cultural divers knowledge, their way of developing the social and doing culture. Forms of photo voice and its integration into classroom/school activities could be used as productive way to re-present self being present differently and as method for distancing oneself. To reflect what we worked on collaboratively, I will firstly focus shortly on a theoretical framework of photographs as narration, which contains a narrative quality inherent to our everyday life practices. Second, photo voice is introduced as style of ‘thinking’ and elaborated for (school) teaching activities. Here, I will emphasise photographs as translations of practices that can be read and interpreted by the viewer. Third, I give some insights on the field notes and reflections of our students to finally present a short overview on findings on teaching with photo voice.
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