Why do we take and keep photographs?
In some ways, it’s an easy answer, because we want to remember someone, some thing or a place that we have visited. In other areas of life, we might make notes or lists.
They are memory joggers, aides memoire, because life’s busy and we forget things, often the little details, which are then remembered in detail because you’re looking at a specific photo. Remembering appears to be the new definition of learning. The amount of information that passes by us in the course of even a short period of time can be lost, or, more likely, replaced by subsequent imagery and associated experiences. We are sensory beings, from birth.
This week, the idea of imagery has cropped up in virtually every conversation that I have had with ITE students, uni and SCITT. This has been prompted by interrogation of lesson purpose and the value of the imagery used.
If one assumes that a teacher is the keeper of the lesson narrative, this, in turn develops the notion of the keeper of the images. The images in a teacher’s head are translated through talk, diagrams, pictures, artefacts or direct experiences; the pedagogical choices of each lesson. This is now being shared as a concept as dual coding, but I would contend that this has been a truism for every generation of teachers. One significant change over time has been the technological improvements that enable an ever broader range of imagery to be shared in a classroom, such as video enhancing the stills to moving images.
Learning to “read” the images presented is a key element of early learning; description encouraging reflection, similarities and differences, inference and deduction, working towards hypothesis and imagination. The whole, if supported by an engaging talk element, discussion within a small group, dialogic discourse with adult lead enables a broadening of vocabulary, embedding concepts more firmly in memory.
Imagery impacts on overall planning, as teachers “conceive” of a learning journey or narrative, that then becomes a scheme of work that ensures each lesson “chapter” has significant “sub-headings, that then can be reviewed before moving to the next chapter. The images at the head of this blog were taken in Alicante. In order to driver there, I ensured that I had a mental map of the journey, with the sub-headings as the key towns that we would encounter en route, so could reflect on choices and adapt to any deviations away from the sat-nav directions.
Teachers need to “narrate” a coherent story, in every subject, supported by carefully chosen images that amplify the story.
It’s a bit like an early reading book, where the pictures add significantly to the written storyline. Interrogation of both add to the overall experience.
Open the pages carefully, sharing appropriate images in order, use quality modelling of language and the whole learning story becomes available.
Teaching minus images leaves talk, with mental imagery totally dependent on stored images which may be incomplete or may not exist, so disables the learner from participation.
If they can’t “see” it, they can’t manipulate it. Let’s make “seeing” and enhancing talk more overt.