Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How not to use war photography in a lesson...

I'm about to start teaching the Spanish Civil War in my Spanish II class. I was looking around for some resources on the web -- I'd gotten it into my head that if I could find some resources aimed at lower-level native speakers I could make use of them for my students. In the course of my search, I found the following puzzling activity:

The instructions say: "El fotógrafo estadounidense Robert Capa realizó una de las fotos de guerra más célebres de la historia an la contienda civil española. Ordénala." [The American photographer Ropert Capa took one of the most celebrated war photographs in history in the Spanish civil conflict. Put the pieces in order.] In case it's not clear from the screenshot, this is a web applet that allows you to play one of those sliding-piece puzzles where you have to put the picture in order. I have a feeling this was one of many generic "plugins" that were part of the suite of "educational" software... I can't imagine the author ever expected to see this sort of image show up in the shuffle.

I have a pretty heavy level of disdain for this sort of activity... it makes me fear for the time when Grace enters elementary school and a good bit of her time is taken up with activities designed to kill time (pointless word searches, easy "puzzle" games vaguely related to the curricular content, etc.). Not to mention what Susan Sontag might say about this particularly unexpected use of photography... (what do you say to the child when, after putting the pieces in order, they realize they seem to be looking at a man's death?)

2 comments:

nanotube said...

> it makes me fear for the time when Grace enters elementary school and a good bit of her time is taken up ...

that's why people homeschool their children. which, by the way, you seem eminently qualified to do.

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