Picture-Perfect Education Art Students Capture Learning at School

Article excerpt

The idea was to capture the art of teaching on film, recording both the fleeting moments and lasting relationship between teacher and student.

For several weeks, 13 photography students at the University of North Florida tried to blend into Duval County classrooms as observers.

Their work, recorded in black-and-white and color images, shows a soft side of public education, one rarely seen outside classrooms.

In one photograph, a girl in denim overalls rises from her chair, right arm held high. Her expression shows she clearly thinks she has the answer to the question posed by the teacher.

Another shows a disabled student leaning over her desk, gripping a pencil in Her mouth to compensate for hands that do not function. She concentrates on her writing as her hair cascades on to the desk.

The photograph chosen as the best of the exhibit shows a teacher, crouched beside a girl, explaining a concept. The teacher's hands are blurred in motion, her eyes focused on the child.

Eventually, the photographs will decorate the College of Education building on the UNF campus, a training ground for future educators. But through August, the exhibit will be displayed in Concourse A at Jacksonville International Airport.

Dominick Martorelli, an assistant professor of photography, said the idea was to increase awareness of the teaching profession. The project, underwritten by the Florida School Book Depository, drew on professors in the visual arts and the education fields.

The assignment required students to occupy a little of both worlds.

While their time commitment varied, most photographers spent several weeks visiting the schools.

"They're not just taking photographs, they're really interpreting a culture," Martorelli said.

In selecting photographers, Martorelli looked for interest, rather than expertise.

"I was more interested in their enthusiasm than in their technical competence."

The images show a variety of photographic styles. …