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Lesson Plans

RE: censorship

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
wrapf (wrapf)
Tue, 21 May 96 13:16:48 EST

Your tale of censorship and the suspension of a photography teacher for
receiving from a student an "obviously vague and unclear image" of a nude made
my skin prickle. As I sit here typing this response my eyes fall on a display
of exemplary student work that I have collected over the years. One of the
most striking piece is a nude done in the Westonian tradition which emphasizes
shape, form and texture. Its not vaque and unclear, but it is very abstract.

I don't assign students to photograph subjects which might cause controversy
within the community. That includes a taboo on pictures of kids drinking,
doing drugs, or pictures that may titalate. I stress the importance that in
doing work for school assignments that they must keep the intended audience,
(their peers, the staff, and the community) in mind. Respect and knowledge of
the audience is an aspect of visual communication that is part of the lesson.
All subjects are plausible (despite the taboo's) if done with sincerity,
restraint, and good taste. Developing an understanding and limits of good
taste is a valuable lesson and students need to know that different situations
require different approaches. I have been fortunate to work in a district,
though conservative in politics, is supportive of ideas and education so my "so
called" nude on the wall can be questioned without serious ramifications to my
job and discussions about appropriateness, what is art, and what makes an image
effective can be pursued without fear. If my students want to be provokative,
anti-establishment, or make images that shock, I hope that the skills that I
instruct and values that I demonstrate give them a firm foundation to do that
type of work on their own time for their own audience. I willing and pleased
to critique their "private" work, but in their "public" work which is comprised
of images produced to solve assignments, I try to ensure that respect,
appropriateness, and responsibility to the viewers is maintained.

Bill Rapf
Souhegan High School
Amherst, NH