Saturday, February 7, 2015

Words and Images
As a lover of words, I’ve consciously and subconsciously resisted the pull of the image. I let other people take the pictures—I want to live the memories. And do you know that the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is NOT an old Chinese proverb but has its English origins in the early 20th century. (See Wikipedia for the rest of THAT story.) Still, from cave paintings, through the Old Testament tabernacle, through medieval cathedrals, and right into the modern internet age, images are significant. 

And here, in the image, 2 of my current learnings meet:  
  1. Messing around in technology to improve my blog and explore Pinterest
  2. Researching and designing a new course for AP Language and Composition
First, a couple of months ago, when I posted my blog to Facebook, it quit showing my cover photo and showed some weird “something’s broken” icon. I shrugged my shoulders and didn’t pay much attention—but it was kind of ugly. I remembered a few months before that when I’d put an image into my blog, Facebook showed that image instead of my blog cover photo. But it was too much trouble to find an image or take a photo for every blog. The important thing was the words, right? 

Then it occurred to me that there are a large percentage of Facebook denizens who scroll for images (I’m married to one of them). They’ll never read my blog without an image. They might stop and take a look with one. 

So two blogs ago, I was sure to insert an image. It was prettier, anyway. Last week, I actually had the brainstorm to take my own picture, puzzling between a Kindle and a stack of books. Guess which got more comments? Couldn’t think of a photo for today, but I at least spent some time looking for images. (I did post a photo with my most recent Facebook update this morning—sure enough—more likes and comments than my usual merely verbal post. One can decry our surrender to the power of images, or one can say, “I want to stay in touch with my friends; image is their love language; I can do images.”)

It’s one of those situations where as soon as I learn something new, I start seeing it everywhere. One of the AP Language and Composition curricular requirements reads as follows: “The course teaches students to analyze how graphics and visual images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of text themselves.” As the College Board itself recognizes, since images are a ubiquitous part of the communication we receive and transmit every day, we might as well understand how they are being used on us and how we can use them.

So as I work on my AP syllabus, I’ve been reading Everything’s an Argument, noting especially what it says about graphics and visual images. I’ve been scanning the daily paper with an eye out for political cartoons and comic strips to clip and use for next year’s class. 

Suddenly I realized, that’s exactly what I’ve been learning with images on my blog and Facebook—mine don’t “serve as alternative forms of text themselves,” but they do “relate to written texts,” not even illustrating a thousand words, but just grabbing an audience that might not otherwise stop.

Then there’s Pinterest, which I just started messing around on. There, the image is the message. You can tag on a little further explanation, but without an image, you can’t even pin. In a strange twist of genres, I’m collecting books—the books that have influenced my teaching. Then I created another to further classify resources for Biblical perspective teaching. I might later start boards of inspirational posters about reading, social justice, and the power of introverts.

I only draw one line: I will never Pin a recipe. 

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