In 2014 I started a project with the children called ”Through the Eyes of the Child” - the idea being that children talk about what is important to them and then try to capture this using the medium of photography.
There was an aim to do this worldwide, (with the idea that children would be able to discuss whether or not there were common themes of childhood across the globe) but even though there was a quite a bit of interest it never got to the point where we could share images and our documentation with each other at the end.
This was of course disappointing as MANY hours had been poured into creating the website, working out how to share the images etc etc... it was, though, an opportunity to learn. To learn that even we adults need to just go with a process in our learning and not have a product.
So I am taking that knowledge and starting the project again. As it is a project worth doing.
Last time the group decided together on what was important to them... it was so interesting to listen to their ideas, and argue for why they were important in a way that would convince others of the importance. In the end LOVE, PLAY, PAINTING and TRAFFIC SAFETY were considered important and the children were given 3 weeks to try and capture these themes on camera.
They were given experience with the camera before hand (so they could go through the whole click happy phase), and we learned together with the children that by giving them a "five photo max" each day made the reflecting time manageable for them... sorting and reflecting on many photos became overwhelming.
This term it will be done slightly differently... in fact I will be doing it with my group twice... a one-week prototype and then reflecting on this to see how the five week project will proceed. Hopefully by the end of it the children will feel more competent in using the camera to document their own learning/what is important to them.
The learning is maybe not as important as using the camera to voice what is important. In a way, I do not want the children to be focussing on what they are learning all the time... I want them to play and for the learning to happen within it. I feel that by encouraging the children to talk about what is important I will learn more about the children and can support their learning better, and hopefully the children will discover more about themselves and each other and can build on this wisdom too.
The one week pilot.
I have 8 children in my group, so I will be dividing them into pairs. Each pair will get a day with the camera. They have to work together about deciding how to spend their 5 photo opportunities (I am thinking about letting them delete a photo during the day if they feel they need to take a more important one). Working as pairs also encourages dialogue. At the end of the day I will sit with the pair and talk about which of the photos is the most important for the day and why. This photo and their thoughts will then be saved, but not shared with anyone else. I plan to save the image in a powerpoint presentation so that I can document the children's words together with the children. This will take Monday to Thursday. On Friday we will sit and look at the four photographs of what has been shared. The dialogue will about looking for similarities and differences in the photos - have the children taken images of the same kind of thing... do others agree with them that that moment was the most important during the day? The ultimate goal is to see if there is an common theme in their photos/reasons for choosing the photo.
The four week project will be the same (of course I might make adjustments based on my observations of the pilot). This time each pair will have four days - Monday to Thursday to document what is important - this time they will have the benefit of the pilot, so it will be interesting to see how it affects their method of selecting and taking images.
It will mean that potentially there are 20 photographs to reflect on - as yet I am not sure if this is too many or not... but the pilot will help me make adjustments. On the Friday I will sit with the pair and do the reflection time, saving the images in a powerpoint presentation that will get added to over the weeks. Again it will be important to include the children's words - their motivations as to why those photos should be a part of the presentation and not the others.
This will mean the presentation will have 16 photographs to look at - and why there is a fifth week... because then we can go through the photographs at our own pace - it might take one session or 5 sessions - or more... but I do feel the first session should be a quick run through of all the images and reading the texts to the children like a storybook... and to start the dialogue after that. Again I will understand more about how this dialogue should proceed after the pilot.
I feel quite excited about this project - and feel it will allow me an important insight to how the children view their preschool lives.
There will be no need to register. The old Through the Eyes of the child website and the old Through the Eyes of a Child blog I will not be using - as it consumed far too much time to maintain them... but I will leave them up and accessible as a reminder of what has happened, although I will be transferring the posts from there to this blog, to make things a bit easier...
There is a facebook page connected to the project - also called Through the Eyes of the Child... you are welcome to drop by and share if you are joining in the learning process of this project... either you follow the same sort of process as I am, or develop your own... it would be great f you could share what you learn.