Inspired/motivated by some things A.D. Coleman wrote on his blog, I decided that I ought to take a whack at teaching my kids some visual literacy stuff. I have a 9 year old, and a 6 year old.
I am starting with the older one.
First thing I showed her was this bad boy:
Which blew her mind, and then we talked about how a photograph is just a piece of the world, stuff gets left out, and sometimes that stuff matters.
Next up (the next day) I took a couple more or less identical photos with the focus point set on different objects. In one this thing is in focus, and that is blurry. In the other, this thing is blurry, and that is sharp. Then we talked about what you're "supposed to look at" in these two pictures. Again, she got it easily, and I think she learned a little something about how the photographer can manipulate your attention.
This led into a discussion that kind of stretched my mind out a bit. It occurred to me that it's probably not obvious to a kid that there's a plane (more or less) at a certain distance from the camera that's in focus. Why not a sphere? Why not a a blob that's all sharp? Well, you and I know the answer is something something optics shut up kid but anyways I laid that out for her. She did not ask, to be clear, but I realized that this was a point worth making explicit.
The next lesson was manually focusing a lens on my camera, using the built-in rangefinder thingy (it's just arrows that say "turn it this way" and "turn it the other way" with a little "nailed it" indicator), and the ability to move the point where it's focusing ON around.
So now, I think, she has a rough grasp of what focus is, and what focus can do.
Next up, a very short sketch of depth of field, and I'll have her take some pictures.
I had a discussion with my sister-in-law who spent many years teaching photography and media literacy to kids, and she feels that hands-on is very important. So, we're going to experiment with that.