Through a Different Lens

Clover

Photo taken and edited by my daughter

An article in today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press talks about the author’s success in getting her son to go on hikes by giving him a digital camera. In the article, Maja Beckstrom talks about a program run by the State Parks which teaches kids about digital photography, as well as her experience taking her son out hiking.

Key quote:

Adults read manuals. Kids treat a camera like a toy and try different things until they like what they see.

We’ve had the exact same experience with our kids. It’s fascinating to see what they’ll photograph, and how they see the hike much differently than you do. Where do they see art? What do they find interesting to document? How do they organize the images? How would they present them, if asked? Give them an online photo tool, like Picasa or Picnic, and they’ll spend hours with the images after we’re back, and they end up with a gorgeous, visual interpretation of the hike.

Yet, like much of the digital world, this is all done outside of school. What would happen if we encouraged kids to take pictures of things in school? On a field trip? As a school assignment? Yet, kids aren’t allowed to have devices that would empower them to take pictures. There are all sorts of rules about privacy, etc., that keep schools from using these tools.

Isn’t it time to move beyond these short-sighted, limiting policies? Sure, kids shouldn’t be taking/making pictures that would hurt another child. Sure, it’s easier to distribute these online. BUT – how are kids going to learn responsible use of these tools if they’re never allowed to use them in a school setting? Let’s see what the kids can do with these tools – it’ll surprise us all.

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