I teach a middle school photo class once a week in a public New York City middle school, and I’ve been photographing there and at similar schools. The schools speak with the same visual vocabulary but time and students personalize the walls. Assimilation, teenage rebellion: institutional architecture, teenage dismay – and hearts.
Tag Archives: Teaching
I taught an after-school photography class to some New York City middle school students last year. I’ve been teaching classes in under-served schools like this on-and-off for a decade, and last year I started shooting with a phone camera. As I looked at what I’d seen, I realized I was photographing school archetypes and the way they illustrate containment and control of desires: the core of the middle school experience, and a cornerstone of education in general. More coming this school year…
I’ve been an arts educator for ten years. But back in 2008, I wanted to give up.
I was teaching arts integration in a first-year teacher’s sixth grade English Language Arts Class. I’d work with her to figure out how photography could give students multiple ways to access academic material, and together we’d help students develop visual literacy and artistic thinking.
But we’d also lose it, in ways that I thought I never would. Once I had to step out of the classroom because I’d yelled in a way that made me immediately sorry and embarrassed. The combination of a challenging age group, an intense mix of personalities, and a struggling school led to endless frustration, even though the kids were great on their own. It seemed like the group came together like Voltron and transformed thoughtful, kind individuals into a furious, resistant mass.
I wanted to make more time to photograph, but after each day of teaching my mind would be buzzing and almost erased. So I took my camera to school, and used it to look at the frustration and intensity I saw.
We made it through the year, and I photograph much more now. The teacher is going strong: her combination of talent, dedication, and commitment to practicing the mechanics of good teaching have made her one of the best educators I’ve worked with.
All photographs ©Alice Proujansky 2015