I didn't respond to your initial lesson plan, so here is some new input,
after reading your latest posting:
This is one of those "PC" issues that I have learned to distance myself
from here in Berkeley for precisely the reasons you list about your
commentators: there are,(it is perceived) no neutral positions. Everyone
has a position, and in these polarized days, we tend to project "bad guy"
status on to those who we perceive as having different positions.
Apparently, it is very difficult to have an open exchange of ideas; diaolog
is really monolog. I often feel, when presenting controversial material,
that I am forced to take the most "correct" position or be labelled a
racist, unenlightened, or worse! Isn't art (photography especially) about
shades of gray?
Beyond that a few comments: can students be asked to photograph
homelessness without photographing people? I often feel discomfort at using
pictures of people to represent issues. Also,there are issues of privacy to
consider.(consider once being homeless, then not. Do you want that evidence
available to everyone? Are all people capable of making those decisions?
What are our rights to privacy?) Can it be done without them?
A corollary that brings these questions up: have you seen the work of Jim
Goldberg, who photographs runaway youth? His recent book and museum show is
"Raised by Wolves". I know Jim and have also worked with the kids in his
photographs, yet I have enormous problems with his work; although I don't
necessarily agree with what he does, I respect the dialog, or controversy,