Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Topic: Multi-media Expression

10-second review: Even in 1975, about five years before computers began to be a part of schools’ programs, English educators had been trying to move teachers away from reliance on words and print. Nothing wrong with that. But I want to comment on the relevance of pictures to words and print.

Title: “Why Should We Teach Multi-Media?” Nancy Cromer. English Journal (December 1975), 68-71. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The author says that, as usual, educators are reluctant to make use of tools that people out side of schools are using. She urges English teachers, who have probably 100% of students taking English, to begin to teach students to express ideas using multi-media.

Comment: The worst examples, it seems to me, of the use of pictures are in English education journals. They’re loaded with print, and I virtually ignore the pictures that are static and add nothing to the meaning of the text. Simply adding pictures in order to have pictures is, in my opinion, a waste of effort.

A number of years ago, I encountered a beautiful book, Twelve Moons of the Year by Hal Borland. Borland wrote essays every Sunday for the New York Times about nature and the changing seasons in the rural countryside in which he lived in Connecticut. Just before he died, he began to assemble a calendar of essays, one for every day of the year.

However, the essays were completely made up of text in which he referred to birds and wild flowers with many of which I was unfamiliar. On my own, I created a page-a-day calendar of his essays and, using the Internet and my own pictures, I added pictures to each essay. The pictures showed the unfamiliar birds and wild flowers and greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the text. I could see pictures of birds and wild flowers that I could not visualize because I was unfamiliar with them.

Now that is when pictures should be added to the text! RayS.

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