In this article Teresa Cristina Gomes de Carvalho talks about her session “Understanding what photographs tell us and about us” at the Image Conference in Athens.
What can images tell us, and ultimately, what can images tell about us? How do we judge, appreciate, love or hate images? Why do some photographs bring us comfort while others prick us? Images have always been part of my toolkit to understand the world and I use them a lot in my classes, but I had never asked myself these questions before despite the growing use of images in EFL materials and in many other situations in my daily life. Images have gone from EFL course book illustrations and magazine cutouts used as flashcards to online image resources readily available for use in my classroom.
However, it was not until two years ago that I decided to go on a quest for the meaning of images to find out why I am attracted to certain types of images and where my connection with them stems from. I also began to wonder what images my students would choose and if there was any chance they would be like the ones I normally choose for my classes. In short, I began to look at images as powerful pedagogical tools to help us understand how teachers and learners make sense of themselves and their teaching and learning. I just needed to find out how I was going to turn my puzzles into research and how my students and I were going to experience images in a way we had never done before. My questions brought along new challenges and research was the answer.
What about you? Are you ready to experience images in the way my students did? So, in this talk I invite you to discover the meanings that my teenage students constructed when they had a chance to become image curators. I invite you to surprise yourselves on this journey into our students’ minds and take an insider look at Exploratory Practice, a practitioner research paradigm that helps us teachers and learners gain a deeper understanding of our teaching and learning through simple everyday classroom activities. I also invite you to get a glimpse of two theoretical frameworks that I used to understand the role of visual literacy and how images can awaken in us feelings and emotions, thus making our experience as teachers and students relevant and meaningful. Together we will chart the path to practitioner research and find out it’s easier than you think.