My philosophy of teaching and learning is constantly evolving, but there are some things that I find myself bringing to different groups of children, year after year. Regardless of the size of the group, the age of the children, the focus of the school, or the dynamic of the group, I know a secret ingredient that always "works" with children: photography.
I do not mean a pretend camera, or a cardboard box craft. I do not mean a simplified blue or pink camera marketed to children. I do not mean a DSLR, training for fine photography. I mean a camera that works, a real world tool for taking pictures.
The camera in the photo above has been in the hands of over one hundred children by now - I have been using it since 2008. While I was thinking about different media/languages to explore with the kids, I thought of this camera, gathering dust in my garage. With some new batteries and a little tutorial, and the children were off and running with this new mode of communication and reflection.
Children practice an entirely different kind of photography than adults do - just as with other media, they are uninhibited. This little thrift store camera is perfect for the classroom because I have no attachment to it - if it breaks, it breaks. The children are far from careless with the camera - they walk around the space, looking at the display screen, pressing the button and counting "one, two, three" as we practiced (it takes a bit to register on this old model), waiting for the click and then finding their next subject.
I have been gathering some thoughts about how to implement photography with children in the classroom, and I wonder if readers out there would like more information! Please let me know in the comments, or by sending me a note.