Can We Crowdsource Equity?

I’ve been thinking about photography and the power of images to influence perceptions…and to change actions.  Litterati came to my attention earlier this month–a movement that encourages people to photograph litter they find, clean the litter up, and post the photo on social media with the hashtag #litterati.  I love the idea!  And I also love the way that so many of the photographs that people post are so beautiful!  My friend Janis took this amazing photo of an abandoned yellow bucket…and some others including one of a Starbucks cup today on the ground nestled in some orange tulip tree blossoms.  As I admire the beauty of her photography, I also think about the impact of the trash and I become more aware of the trash around me.

And then Mia over at the  #clmooc posted this video about the Landfill Harmonic where a music teacher, a garbage picker, and children from a Paraguayan slum make musical instruments from trash in the landfill, and then work to create a better life for the children who  play beautiful music on these instruments.

This morning a tweet about a TED talk caught my eye.  The Silent Drama of Photography.

I listened to Sebastiao Salgado to tell his story about his obsession with photography as he captured the devastation of war and death and destruction–to the point where doctors told him that his photography was killing him.  He turned away from photography and returned to Brazil, his homeland, and decided to work to restore the rainforest that was lost to human encroachment by planting native trees and plants–and giving his family’s ranch to the country as a nature preserve.  Through this work he found his love of photography again and changed his focus from photographing humans to photographing nature, capturing the beauty of the land reclaimed.

I find myself considering the question Janis asks in her post about the abandoned yellow bucket…how can we, as educators and those who care about the education of our young people, use photos to bring attention to the “litter” in education–all those practices that stamp out the passion for learning and treat students as cogs in a learning machine–to allow spaces for creativity, critical thinking, and pure joy of learning?  To allow all students this access, regardless of socioeconomic status, skin color, language background, and test scores.  Can we use photography as a way to crowdsource awareness towards equity in education?

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