Playing Devil’s Advocate Through Imagery
have a pathological need like to argue. It’s something that I was apparently born with, as my mother insists at a very young age I was quite obviously cut out to be a lawyer. Despite my best efforts at self-monitoring and awareness of this trait, I often relapse into base level arguments when unprepared for a conversation that may challenge my viewpoints. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to create the image above for the ds106 Big Caption assignment. While some may question the taste of the piece (it certainly doesn’t reflect my own personal beliefs), I wanted to create something that could be used as a way to provide a contrasting viewpoint, rather rational or not, to a topic of interest that students and teachers wrestle with.
In this case, I found an image from Boston.com’s Big Picture photo journalism project, an amazing look at news from around the world through striking imagery. You can see the original image of a woman looking out through the ice-covered window of a bus in Bucharest below. I took the image into Photoshop and added the text, applied some simple effects (stroke and color fill), and viola! The end result is meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the idea is to try and provide a conversation piece that might provide a contrast to a topic you’re covering in class, or perhaps just practice rhetorical skills.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not in favor of global warming, but quite often the more important discussion of how global warming will affect the lives of everyone on this planet is overshadowed by the much more mundane argument of whether it actually exists. That doesn’t sit right with me, as while I am capable of arguing over almost anything, I’d like to think that I’m discussing a topic that will lead to answers and results with greater value for everyone. Disproving global warming isn’t going to help anyone if it still happens, but talking about how cultures, countries, and citizens might have to change their long term living patterns seems as though it might be a bit more important.
I love the Big Picture site that this ds106 assignment is based upon, and the idea of captioning a striking image with a humorous, insightful, or challenging viewpoint was made popular by the Big Caption website (warning: not all images and captions are appropriate for the K-12 setting). Forgetting the captions for a moment, there is a near constant flow of amazing images from around the world on the Big Picture site that could be used for classrooms talking about current events, or want a way to bring the world into their classroom in a very humbling manner (see the rest of the images from the European winter which has many homeless living in underground heating vents).
Imagery, especially such vivid photographs as those taken from around the world by professional photo journalists, can play a very intimate and important role in spurring discussion, or illustrating a point. I highly recommend any social studies or language arts teachers to give the site a look, and see what you could take from it for use in your classroom.