Pictures That Help Us Learn

I was putting together a presentation on social media and online learning recently and in doing so, wanted to come up with an example of how photo sharing might be used to support educational activity. I ended up using the following Red Cross “Be Red Cross Ready” series from Flickr:


With the constant commenting, texting, Skyping, and twittering that seems to characterize Web 2.0, and increasingly, Learning 2.0, this left me reflecting a bit on the power of contemplating still images in silence. Serendipitously, my wife happened to mention Chris Jordan to me at right about this time.

Jordan is a photographer who creates beautiful and thoughtful works that suggest or directly depict the waste and destruction that too often is part of American life.
I guess I have missed some of the Colbert Report lately and have generally been spending too much time living under a rock, but I can’t remember having come across his work before. This being the week of Blog Action Day, it seems even more serendipitous to now encounter his “Running the Numbers: An American Self Portrait” or “Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption" series, both of which suggest, with a terrible beauty and clarity, the damage we do to both ourselves and our environment through unrestrained consumerism. As Jordan himself says of the “Intolerable Beauty” series, “I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination.”

If these are not still images with the power to catalyze significant learning, then I do not know what else would qualify. I won’t say any more about them here, as they are images that speak for themselves. I encourage you to visit Jordan’s site, or much better, attend one of his exhibits.


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