right to the source
What might a photograph of your classroom tell an observer about your classroom community?
Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952) was one of the first American women to achieve prominence as a photographer. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, she sought to capture instances of progressive education. One location Johnston focused on was Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (currently Hampton University) which was founded in 1863 to provide education to freedmen after the Civil War. The Institute was initially led by Union General Samuel Chapman Armstrong; he espoused that education must encompass the head, the heart, and the hands. Photographs from Johnston’s collection at the Library of Congress show Hampton Institute students participating in classes such as Agricultural Studies, Dressmaking, Hygiene, and Bricklaying.
Consider showing the image featured here, taken in 1899 or 1900, of Hampton Institute students exploring a cheese press in an agricultural studies class to your students. Ask them to make initial observations about the image, its setting, its subjects, and activity. Prompt them to observe how the students in the image appear to be working together, and ask what questions the image prompts. Use their observations and questions to launch into a discussion about your classroom; what messages might a photograph of it convey about how your students engage in learning? Use the products of these conversations to build classroom norms, in the form of a list or picture, that promote a community of inquiry, inclusion, and collaboration.
Related Student Explorations
Jacqueline Katz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the 2022–23 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress. See: www.loc.gov/teachers.
Leadership Pedagogy Teaching Strategies High School