My teaching philosophy revolves around constantly adapting and changing to suit the student’s needs during the pursuit of their photographic vision. From my experience with teaching photography workshops this summer, I gathered that teaching must be a balance of part lecture and part practice.
The workshops were comprised of high school students with a generally limited understanding of English who came from villages all over India to attend the Suttur Free School. The school educates 4,400 students and provides housing and meals to the 3,000 students who do not come from a neighboring village. Their typical school day consists of a lot of math and science classes, so the photography workshops were a welcome break and challenge for the students who signed up. After discussions and approval from the local Swamiji (religious leader) and the school administration, my partner and I began weekly workshops with students in the 10th Standard, their last year of high school.
Due to their age and the language barrier, the students became glass-eyed with excess lecturing, but I found that some is required or else they have nothing to inspire them. On the first day of teaching we took the students out to a field, demonstrated the basics of the camera, the Rule of Thirds and handed over the cameras that were donated to the workshops. This produced dozens of images similarly composed of coconut trees and flowers. The second day we chose to first show them some images done by artists and journalists, examples of abstractions in nature and variances in composition. Then we walked to the same field and passed out the cameras. The results of this provided a much more interesting variety of images, and the students put far more thought into the way they photographed. Witnessing this very simple cause and effect helped me to continuously revise my teaching direction as the weeks went on.
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