The following blog post is part two of a series written by Marta Guevara, TGS Teacher, as she observed the ways in which the students interpreted their photography assignment in their presentations to the class. NOTE: the students have selected nicknames for themselves for security and privacy purposes; those nicknames are reflected here.
To read part one of Marta’s post, click here.
What is power through the eyes of a 13, 14, 15 year-old? I’m about to find out.
A picture of Brad Ovenell-Carter Assistant Head of School, pops up on the screen. “Someone you respect has power over you,” explain Dude and Kiwi I am proud of my colleague. Yes, the students respect him. In such a short time, we have all learned to respect Brad. All of them pause for a moment to think. People we respect have power over us.
Porcelaine and Lhaphu explain how power can look easy from the outside, but is actually quite complex. “Power is to stop and think about the future. It is powerful to be self-reflective and have the courage to look ahead,” they explain as they show a picture of a flight of stairs. “The stairs show movement, and they push us to think of the future.” It takes SO much power and courage to think of what is ahead of all of us.
There is also power in institutions such as religion and government. Spendlove, Freeze and Adrian show photos of traffic signs. “These signs tell us what to do or not do. They control our actions because the government has power over us.” In a similar vein, Phoenix and Isaac also take a look at the government. “The military has shaped our world in many ways.” I stop for a minute to think. “And they still shape it to this day.” Everyone nods their heads.
Religion presented by several groups. Some see the positive side, others, like Photoman and Demitrios remind us of how this power is misused to justify religious wars. In other photos, we see the power in machines, fire, even the sound of a bicycle bell. Amidala and Benny point out the power of advertisement, clearly portrayed in the picture of the huge Wall Street billboard that Photoman and Demitrios. shot. Amidala shows the picture of the library. “There is a lot of power in knowledge.” All the students, stop to think a bit, and then agree. “A library is beautiful and powerful” they surmise.
Frosty and Polarbear surprise us with a very interesting picture of power: a security camera. There is not much to add. We all understand. This is a picture that tells an entire story. Jens stops for a minute with an “Ah!” We all join in.
All along, Jens been giving feedback to the students. Sometimes Jens has stopped to point out technical aspects. What works, what doesn’t, what could be better. I like his approach. Sometimes we forget that children will respond well to criticism. Once again, I see the power of someone they respect. Jens has been direct and respectful with them. I can see them absorb his words. They are learning.
Greed is leftovers. They find them everywhere: on a dining hall table, in the trash, on a shelf at the library a half-eaten apple, on a tower of sugar cubes, in overeating… They all agree that a few have too much, “and they never have enough. If they have money they want more of it.”
I am surprised to see how many of them agree on the greed of commercial institutions. “Wayne’s Coffee” say Amidala and Benny, “it’s like Starbucks here.” The greed of the franchise. “The stores are filled with things we don’t need.” Porcelaine and Lhaphu add. “It’s in technology, the internet now is full with places where we can buy things” adds Phoenix.
“See those mannequins on the store window? They look indifferent. They don’t care about anyone. They only care about themselves” observe Polarbear and Frosty. “Jewelry” Photoman and Demitrios criticize, “we don’t need at all, but we all want it.” Yes, they all say. It’s SO true. Why do we need “bling-bling” I wonder out loud…?!
And so the assignment comes to an end. I sit there fascinated. We have all learned. Both the children and the adults. I just came out of a gathering with peers. Except these are a little younger than what I’m used to.
Another day at TGS. What will happen next?!