More than just a picture

Sir Ken Robinson, the champion of the importance of creativity in education, talks about the need for all children to have a creative outlet. He mentions that ‘’creative intelligence is dynamic, it’s diverse and it’s distinct’’. I believe that creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy and we should treat it with the same significance.

Although Sir Robinson’s TED talk is one of the most viewed it is now over a decade old. Contemporary schools encourage children to take risks and value failing forward. We teach learners to be prepared to be wrong and that original or remixed thinking is expected. The world is becoming more and more dynamic and the ability to be adaptable is now a valued commodity. Creative intelligence generates the perfect skill set which we need to equip young people with so that they can navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.

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It is this innovation and imagination that many employers and companies seek to attract in their candidates. They want the creative thinkers, the challengers and the risk takers on their team. They want their employees to have the ability to look, to see and to react to something which is in front of them. This reflects a growing acceptance that creativity is not simply about coming up with big ideas, but coming up with practical solutions to everyday problems and then applying them to real life situations. That solution driven mentality is closely linked to service learning and taking action within schools.

Many people think that Action is easy to define. It is something you do, right? But Action is much more than that. Action is a part of who we are. If we want to change the world we need to start with changing ourselves. But sometimes change is hard. How do we make changes to the way we think so we can help the world? So what if we combined creativity and taking action? What if we started to see the two as different sides of the same coin?

Teachers need to provide the scaffolded learning experiences that help students gain the skills (including how to collaborate and how to creatively focus on solving challenges) and knowledge to take sustained and meaningful action.

If we want children to make a difference in the world we need to help them personalize the action they take, and understand that it is not just a mandate from their teachers and parents, but about building relationships to the people around them, about developing a life long mindset.

Photography as activism is an ‘in’ to this mindset.

True action depends on first understanding the issues and developing a relationship with the local community. Without building relationships you can post very nice Instagram pics but your creative output will not serve the constituents you are trying to help and may actually contribute to assumptions and misconceptions held about that community.

“Photographs are polysemic — that they lend themselves to many meanings. Once we understand that the meaning that a viewer takes to form an image is the product of an exchange between the image and her or his life history, their social position, the context in which they see the image, and more, we become aware of the critical importance for this kind of work ( not for all photography, but for the work I’m talking about ) of making sure that the meaning we intend to communicate is conveyed to the viewer. This opens up a series of questions about the contexts in which we show our photographs” Steve Cagan

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So how do we develop the skills and knowledge we want to pass on to our learners? First, we have to flex our creativity muscles and learn how to see the world through a service lens, literally. At LEVEL5 we value the time needed to hone our creativity, fail forward, and develop relationships with our community. As such, we have invited Dave Caleb to facilitate the two day workshop, Small lens, Big Impact: Changing the World Through Photography. In this workshop, we will explore how to capture incredible images and tell stories through photographs.

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Image credit: Dave Caleb

You will use what you learn to empower the students in your classroom to be photographers, documentarians and changemakers — students who shape their world with photography. We will start with a device that many students carry in their pockets, the smartphone.

Then we will explore the power of your DSLR camera and use it to capture images that have a lasting impact with the viewer. Images the explore your creativity and amaze your audience. Finally, we will take a look at a variety of ways to share and display your images that have the maximum impact.

Dave is a Digital Literacy Coach at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. He works with individuals and teams to help them integrate technology to support student learning. Dave is an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and enjoys sharing his passion for technology and learning.

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Dave is the author of a number multitouch books including The Photographer’s Toolkit, Literature Circles with iPads and Stories Through the Lens. He has also co-authored an iTunesU course on Photography with iOS Devices and a multitouch book Digital Approaches to Writing.

For additional resources to help scaffold service and action check out: We provide a free curriculum framework and supplementary resources to implement the scaffolding of the necessary skills that students need in order to take action.

Learn more about this workshop and others hosted at LEVEL5 here.

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