In 8 days I’ll have the pleasure of watching 27 primary aged children, 12 parents, 2 teachers, and 3 gallery education staff come together in a partnership that celebrates kids with cameras. Our destination is the National Gallery of Victoria (@ngv_melbourne). I’m pumped! The young people are excited! And the educators are fascinated! Sounds crazy to some, but hey, inviting young people aged between 8 and 11 years to photograph their learning experiences within a gallery education program offers possibilities of interesting insights…for all involved.
We’ve been planning since early in the year and I’ve had the privilege of project managing, problem solving, planning, designing, and wondering with my colleagues. I call everyone involved colleagues – the young people, teachers, parents, and gallery education – as we have worked together in a collaborative partnership that highlights and includes all voices. These voices are not only integral to the development of the project but also in the contribution they make to sharing insights and perspectives.
One of our aims is to demonstrate how young people are capable photographers of their learning experiences. Supportive camera workshops at school prior to visiting the gallery have equipped the young people with camera handling skills and knowledge about how to frame and compose a photograph. Ideas around close ups, standing at different heights, looking from different angles and keeping the camera still have been discussed, problem solved and practiced. All this background work is to support the young people in their capacity to photograph in the gallery rather than worrying about how to turn the camera on/off, what a zoom does, and how to turn the flash off in order to not interfere with art works. Alongside the camera familiarisation the young people have been supported in their notions of how photographs as visuals can support sharing of stories, insights, learning, teaching, and observations. This is an exciting part of the project as the sharing of learning within the gallery context can provide many insights into the use of the camera as a mobile hand held digital technology, how the gallery can be utilised as a learning space, how photographs can support alternative reflection, and how art is and can be interacted with.
So we are interested in asking:
- How do the students use the digital camera?
- What are students’ ideas about art?
- What are young students’ ideas about art galleries?
- What is important to young people when they visit the NGV?
- How is the collaboration between a school, the NGV and students built over time to assist in meaningful exploration of art?
- How can we understand what children and young people see, think and experience at the NGV during their NGV Schools delivered experience through the generation of digital photographs paired with reflection to create Visual Narratives?
Throughout the gallery visit the young people will be invited to participate in planned educational workshops that are based around both ‘creating and making’, and ‘exploring and responding’. Throughout all of these experiences the young people will be clicking away and capturing what interests them. While this is happening the parents (in their capacity as helpers for the gallery visit) will be not only caring after the young people but also observing, alongside the teachers and gallery education staff. The ‘kids with cameras’ will be the centre of learning and teaching on the day and also post gallery visit as their photographs will be paired with their reflections to form visual narratives. The stories, insights, highlights, lowlights, possibilities, and ideas that emerge will juxtaposed against multiple perspectives.
One of the things that fascinates me about this project is the honouring of the young people as photographers. I love this idea, and as many of you would have noticed is a strong theme in my research. I enjoy the empowering of the young people as well as the possibility for change for the educators and adults to learn from the young people. We don’t often have the opportunity to listen to the voice of young people, nor have the chance to stop and reflect from their perspective about the learning that has been designed, delivered and evaluated by us. The power of pairing their voice with their photographs is a wonderful gift and approach to enable inclusive sharing.
If you had an opportunity to hand a digital camera to a young person and ask them to capture their learning, how would you do this?
What would you like to find out from the young children who are about to visit the NGV?
When was the last time you had an opportunity to listen to a young person’s opinion, story or idea? How did this impact you?