My friend has an interesting idea to “see the world through children’s eyes”. He’s submitted the idea for a funding proposal that will be awarded according to popular vote. You can see and vote for his proposal here. I do admire him for coming up with an idea and trying to achieve it. It got me pondering, given my standpoints on issues based on the experiences and exposure I’ve had, how I might choose to structure the project should I find myself set on putting all my effort into such an idea.
For starters, let us assume that the primary objective of this project is to create a collection of photographs as a platform for people (young and old around the world) to see the world through the perspective of children using the medium of photography. A second assumption I am going to make is that the medium of photography by children can be useful in many ways different ways (depending on how it is framed) in education (one of the many possible uses is briefly explained here, and the full research paper can be read here). Finally, the third assumption I am going to make is that many schools, groups and individuals have already used photography by children as an educational tool (a most well-known example being Kids With Cameras). Given these assumptions, instead of travelling the world to give children cameras and assign them to create images that capture the world through their eyes, I would make the primary task of the project the creation of a platform to promote, curate and create children’s photography as an educational resource. The platform could be an online photography submission gallery (or easiest to set up cost-free, right now, would be a flickr group) and information guides with suggested lesson plans for parents or teachers guiding the children in this project on how the project could be introduced to the children, and how to describe their photographs in a way that could convey meaning to the viewer. For groups that are new to using photography in education, details could be provided on how assignments can be incorporated into a media literacy curriculum – as a third stage of media literacy, getting children to create their own media to represent themselves; as part of a writing class – describing their photograph in writing; as part of an art class, etc.
Much like many other global campaigns in the era of Web 2.0, the project can call for organisations to use this as a platform to share works from their existing programmes, or for volunteers to set up programmes in their own cities. City-based volunteer groups could contact schools/organisations in or near their cities to run activity workshops and to coordinate donations of digital cameras (both from individuals as well as from digital camera manufacturers) or funds, to be raised for groups that may wish to participate, but do not have the resources to. The project creator need not physically travel anywhere to be part of the project (except perhaps to manage such projects in his own home city), since parents, teachers or volunteers in each project city would be the ones guiding the children and helping to get their images and descriptions onto the online gallery. This would make the project an inclusive, voluntary platform, with minimal costs, thus aiding in sustainability – “Think Globally, Act Locally” right? In fact, since the project need not have an end date, the project creators, who are now freed to function primarily in the role of curator, could concentrate on curating the works into collections instead, perhaps through tagging. For example, a collection to sum up “The World in 2009 – As Seen Through the Eyes of Children” or other topical variations.
In any case, the purpose of my writing this is not to say that I would like to run such a project, but more to provide my add-on to an idea. Inspired by my coursework in International Education, I’ve been trying to connect-the-dots of the multitude of implications of the “new flat world order” we live in (read Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded). I realise that for me, it is not so much the need for a competitive edge over the other 6 billion people that inhabit our planet that overwhelms me (no, I don’t agree that that’s necessarily the conclusion, Thomas Friedman!), but rather that, “if anything and everything that can be done will be done” but I’m not doing whatever that “anything and everything” is yet because it isn’t high on my list of current priorities, then perhaps my responsibility is to release this idea out into the world. Perhaps someone will pick up the idea and run with it, or perhaps someone will build on the idea (that I built, in turn, on someone else’s idea) or perhaps the thought process behind it, rather than the idea itself, will trigger some ideas in someone else. Better yet, I might read it again sometime in the future and realise that this was my life’s mission all along (heh). Whatever the case, I’ve spent too many years noting random scraps of ideas into miscellaneous journals that were later chucked to collect dust in some dark drawer, create dead space on my hard disk, or worse still, allowing ideas to float through my mind, then escape into the land of the forever forgotten. I resolve to try to release some little ideas out into the world; a baton of sorts, for you to pick up if you so choose to, to run your own good race, wherever it may take you. So here it is then, if nothing else, a humble contribution to a no-longer traceable web of inspiration and collaboration, now of a scale made possible only by our “new flat world order”!