Thursday, October 12, 2006

OJOS nuevos: clase número dos

Objective for Week 2: Encourage students to approach their subject matter in new and creative ways. By practicing "getting closer," students can focus on searching for details they may have otherwise dismissed, on seeking unique points-of-view, and on gaining confidence in moving with their camera to capture a more interesting image.

Class #2 opened with another slideshow of photography from around the world. While they were well-behaved during the first class, I found that after one week they have come to take this class much more seriously. I asked for silence and stillness during the slideshow, and all four girls in attendance sat quietly watching the wide range of images I selected for this week flash before them to an instrumental by Carrie. To extend the space created for individual thinking, I then asked that each student move to a seat in the room away from everyone else. As they wrote or drew in their journals, I passed out their portraits we had taken for the first page, and I felt pleased to see that everyone had found time within the week to write about last class's question and to decorate their cuaderno a little more.

For the bulk of the class, we gathered around the computer to view each student's first photos. I had no problem keeping their attention on the computer screen, and I could see, as each girl's turn came, a sliding scale of emotions. Some seemed eager to hear what others had to say, some seemed a little shy to be the center of attention, and others seemed just blatantly excited to be finally seeing their work blown up on the screen before them.

Lena and I had each written personal comments about each girl's work, but we decided to pass these sheets out after class, once the girls had a chance to formulate their own discussions first. Running a critique in the english language is difficult enough, from articulating why a certain piece evokes a particular feeling to explaining how to offer constructive criticism respectfully. I only hope that the mistakes I made did not deter too much from the point of what I was trying to say. For the record, "to capture" is captar, "very impressive" is muy impresionante, and the word for "answer" is respuesta NOT repuesto; if you say repuesto you are actually saying "spare part," as in, "I need a repuesto for my broken car," and 6 young adolescent females will break into giggling hysterics. When we finally did pass out the comment sheets we had written, a couple of the girls surprised me with their insistence on notas; they were looking for a number from 1-7, the Chilean grading system. I explained, as best I could, that there would be no grades in this class, rather, there will be areas in which you have succeeded and areas in which you could use to give more attention, effort, or time.

Project for Week 2: Create 15 photographs focusing on details. This assignment is to help students not to quickly dismiss subject matter because it isn’t immediately interesting. Encourage students to take their time while walking with their camera, to select their subject matter and move in closer than they ordinarily might, and to compose their images with attention to detail.

To introduce the project for the coming week, I showed a filmstrip of images I took over the weekend walking around our neighborhood Barrio Brasil. This quickly turned into a game as the girls tried to guess the subject matter of each image. While some classes may have difficulty building a sense of class unity among the students, the six girls in my class not only get along incredibly well, but they seem to have a special relationship that mixes friends with sisters with something secret and serious. I am quickly finding myself intrigued by this group of young women, and I wonder what will happen to them when it becomes their time to leave this barrio, this hogar.

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