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Photographic interconnections : how students view their school environment Jansen, Stephanie Alaire

Abstract

This research aimed to understand the relationships seven secondary students perceived themselves to have with the physical and social features of their school environment. An ecological approach was used to study the reciprocal relationships between students and their school. Cameras were put in the hands of seven secondary students enrolled in a photography course at their school. They were given a roll of 24-exposure black and white film and asked to photograph the physical and social features that represented their interconnections with their school environment. To record their perspectives, each student selected their two best pictures and wrote a descriptive narrative for each. Interviews focused around their photographs to further enhance their meanings for the researcher. The majority of the students photographed physical features that they used as metaphors to represent their interconnections with their school environment. Their narratives either supported or rejected the way specific physical features looked and communicated social or political statements about the benefits or limitations of the school environment. The results clearly indicate that, from the students' perspectives, the physical environment of their school shapes the social and political aspects of their educational experience. Each student's photo-story about their relationship with their school environment is valuable information for educators to consider. Listening to what the students deem to be important and taking their ideas into consideration could promote constructive changes needed within so many school environments.

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