Yesterday was the last day of my photography class at UrbanHomeschoolers (UHS). And we did what any good photography class should do . . . we played with balloons!
In this class of homeschoolers, I didn't get as much technical information across as I had originally planned for. Today, if you asked my students about aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, or light meters - they probably wouldn't know much more than when we started months ago. But ask them to share their photos and discuss their work - watch out!!
They used digital cameras, cell phones, tablets - anything that takes a picture. If you know me, I'm not a willing participant of the digital world. I don't own a cell phone. I'm not a fan of the digital camera. I still do most of my shooting with film. My opinion of the digital world runs more towards Bah, humbug. And Harrumph! I'm not on Facebook. Perhaps you've even heard a Look-How-Digital-has-Ruined-Everything rant from me.
But this group of kids, using only digital technology, produced work that awed and inspired me. They had an incredible eye for composition. There was a flare for the dramatic, and just as often, a sophisticated subtlety that pleased me to my core.
How did they do that? With such ease and confidence?
Ok. They're homeschoolers. A big part of homeschooling is about following the child's interests; it's about exploring; it's about going forward with confidence even if your path is not along the accepted norm. As homeschoolers, it seems they could do nothing less than step out into the world (or neighborhood, in this case) and bring back something amazing for me to see.
But they also showed me that there just might be something to all this digital mumbo-jumbo I have come to hate. They showed me that the abundance of images they've been surrounded by in their short lives has helped them create an understanding and a sophisticated dialogue that I do not think would have been possible "back in my day." And the ease of the digital camera (or cell phone, or tablet) allowed an instant leap forward, where content could rule.
With each new session of classes, I'm full of plans, brimming with information and technique I'm eager to share, full of goals about what I want to teach and where I want each student to be at the end of my class. I teach a lot of different classes in a lot of different places to wide range of ages, abilities, and learning styles. But always, ALWAYS, my students surprise me by teaching me something new. I never needed to be convinced about the great advantages of homeschooling. But I did need a big shove in the direction of appreciating the digital world.