Thesis Update: How Is Photography Used In The Classroom?

fotoAgataMarinaMy name is Marina Massaro, and you may remember me from a blog entry I wrote about the CCNY Child Development Center. I am a mother, I also work as an Artist Teacher for the Joan Mitchell Foundation, I collaborate with two great photographers Claudia Hehr and Maurizio Bacci, and I am working on my thesis for my Art Education Master’s degree at the City College of New York.

When I moved to New York City from Italy almost seven years ago, my goal was to start a career in photography. Different situations brought me to my interest in Education, but photography is still one of my main interests and passions. Therefore, for my thesis project, I decided to focus on how New York City (NYC) elementary school teachers use photography in their teaching routine, and, specifically, how NYC elementary school teachers use photography to support elementary age English Language Learners (ELLs) in mastering spoken or written English. To do so, I gathered information from teachers with an online survey (please fill it out if you are a teacher), and with in person interviews. According to the data I acquired, the practice of showing and using photography is something most teachers utilize often in their teaching routine. Yet, none of them have taken photography classes.

While working on my thesis, I also started noticing how in most of the workshops I attended, the educators use photography to support participants’ understanding. Just last week, I attended the Face to Face, Art in Education Roundtable. All of the educators/facilitators used some sort of photography in their workshop. Yet, when I asked to these educators to suggest resources, many struggled. Christopher Lea, a Teaching Artist from the Lincoln Center Education  mentioned, “I created my own resources,” and Jordan Dann, the Education Director from Teachers & Writers Collaborative  talked with me about photography as “primary source text.” I started thinking again about photography, and I started questioning if and when photography is considered Art. Many discussions and research have been done on Art Integration, and how other subject areas may benefit from Art. If photography is considered art, then the more then 50 teachers I interviewed already practice art integration in the classrooms.

Half way through my thesis project on how photography is used in the classroom, many other questions enter my mind based on my main research questions. Is photography a source of documentation or art? Perhaps it is both, or it is more then one or two things?


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