Photo: Rafa Rios

Photo: Rafa Rios

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Arts Movement

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Arts Movement

I use photography and media as tool for participatory-based learning.  My teaching experience has helped me build a model for education that revolves around the production of art. My personal experience pushes me to constantly observe the changing need of my students in relationship to the evolution of photography, art and media. Through my own practice, I experiment with contemporary tools and materials to explore their capacities and possible uses for the classroom and new learning opportunities.

PROMOTE VISUAL LITERACY WITH THE CAMERA AS A TOOL FOR LEARNING

Photography makes learning accessible to everyone, it produces immediate results and accelerates the learning process. Photos can break down language barriers, build observational skills and provide a level playfield for students in the classroom. In my class Journey, Syrian refugee students use photography to gain English literacy skills. In a scavenger hunt assignment, they collect photos of specific colors, shapes and numbers while developing a comprehensive understanding of English language. The camera gives them the confidence to learn and reduces the amount of culture shock at a new school and home.

EDUCATORS SHOULD PRODUCE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS IMAGE-MAKERS

Photo education includes a critical examination of how we use photography, understand images and why there is a need to produce new images. I want students to create work with purpose and meaning. In the Little Saigon Stories, Vietnamese students study the media's portrayal of their culture. They use the camera as a tool to collect origin stories of local Vietnamese people to reveal a community behind the shadow of war. The students gain a sense of advocacy for themselves as they produce their own images that explore cultural heritage and illuminate the culture in ways it hasn’t been seen before.

MAKE STUDENTS ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS IN THEIR OWN LEARNING

Photography gives students the chance to learn about the world through their own eyes. Here the student plays an important role in their own education. In Beginning Darkroom, students are required to slow down and think more critically about the choices they make with their camera. In a photo assignment, Undocumented, students photograph people, places and things that go unnoticed. This helps students to dictate their own interests during critical discussion of their work.  In Momentum, students in a detention facility face adversity in an assignment, Inside & Out, where students produce symbolic images of how they see themselves in comparison to how they believe others perceive them. This gives the students the opportunity to learn about cultural stereotypes based from their own experiences and encourage them to articulate their feelings, think critically about the past and actively make positive choices for their future.

USE MEDIA TO OPEN THE GATES TO EQUITY AND  A MORE COMPASSIONATE SOCIETY

Give students the tools they need to help others learn about the evolution of society and push for the advocacy of equity and a more compassionate society. In Motherlands, a student documents the story of  three generations of Filipina women and shares “I found a way of sharing my story—our story—through film. Reel Voices taught me to see film not just as a form of art, but as a way of resistance. To say yes. We exist. Yes, we matter. Our stories matter. And they deserve to be listened to, to be seen.”  Through this program I have also been able to support LGBTQ students with films like Androgyne, where a student documents the experience of not fitting the gender roles of society and American Born Confused Desi film that questions and challenges the stereotypes of the Indian-American community.

GIVE PHOTOGRAPHY A CONTEXT BY EXPLAINING ITS HISTORY AND SCIENCE

I teach students about the contributions made to photography through science, technology, engineering and math. In Advanced Darkroom Photography, students learn the properties of different chemicals with early processes like cyanotype. They learn about the raw chemistry, how to prepare it and apply it to paper to make their own light sensitive paper. Through exposure, they see and experience the chemistry's reaction to the sun. In this class I also I encourage the development of new and innovative processes by combining historical and contemporary technique. This results in new and unknown results that encourage students to be independent, develop their own processes, and unique quality of work.