I have been invited to take on the role as coordinator of art and photography at a new enterprise that is being set up, to help hold and fund research around home education in the U.K
It is early days, but the role will involve using my imagery in the website and any press releases , and then organising an archive of submitted images around home-eduction and deciding where the images will go.
The partnership is being set up with several uk academic institutions with the intention of being a database of home education research currently in existence, as well as commissioning new research, holding events to educate the public on home-education and what it looks like, and having easily accessible research for families and the government to access on elective home education in the uk.
I appeared with one of the mums from my project Katie, and the piece was on parents who were not home educating before lockdown , but are now going to continue, obviously my project ‘ A Heuristic Interlude ‘ fit perfectly with this subject, so I was invited to come and talk about the project on the show. The full interview is below which I have shared a clip of on Instagram tagging in – Times Radio. I have also share it on twitter and facebook, both on my accounts and national and local home education groups.
“Everybody has been unschooled at some time or another in their life, simply because unschooling is how we learn naturally, without a teacher.”
Danelle 2017 – Weed ’em and Reap.
After my meeting with Wendy today I thought I needed to articulate more why I felt that I needed to call the project ‘Unschooled’ .
Put simply, ‘Unschooled’ is a term used in the pedagogical world meaning an educational method that is similar to child-led learning or autonomous education.
I was looking for a title to use with the tag line ‘A Heuristic Study’ . I chose Unschooled for a number of reasons; this pedagogical method being one of many I am visually recording in this project, the fact that it is a term that will generate interest from the wider pedagogical worlds as well as the home-educating community , but also and most importantly, that anyone that sees this title with or without an image from the project, will have a good idea what it is about.
Wendy mentioned that she did not think it was the right title for the project, that it could be seen as a negative by people.
My initial thoughts were that, at the moment I am of the opinion that the title doesn’t matter too much, I am so preoccupied with the sheer immensity of the work load I have, I felt like I didn’t have space to even think about the title.
However, I have thought about this more since the meeting, and actually I don’t agree with what I said, the title IS important, but it certainly isn’t the most important thing. I think what I meant was, I believe the project is strong enough to stand on it’s own, the title is much further down the list than even secondary.
The project consists of multiple individually titled projects after all, so the ‘Unschooled’ is just an umbrella term for them all to sit under.
It is also important to say, that I did think about this title a LOT. It wasn’t a snap decision. I have known that the project was going to be called this I think, for months, I was just trying to ignore it, repress it, because honestly, I didn’t want to call it this.
I have very negative connotations attached to the word school, so every part of me was screaming not to do it. I am aware that some outside of the home-educating community may well take it as a negative (as well as inside as well!) , and I have thought about this a lot since the meeting, and I can only say that I have come to the conclusion, and say bravely and uncensored, I don’t care.
I am not bothered if people make a snap decision about a project on a title and decide not to watch it, for they are not my audience, and they were never going to be. If someone feels negatively about it , but then looks at the project thats great, they may learn something, they may be educated, they may hate it, they may love it.
I am ok with some people taking an instant dislike to my work, or having an instant and strong reaction to it.
People will always do that , with art, with words, with titles, it doesn’t matter , or rather it doesn’t matter negatively, it is a good thing. All engagement is good, especially strong engagement , either one way or another.
My project will very subtly anger a lot of people. Inherently people are annoyed by home-education, they are frustrated, angry and defensive. A LOT of people are offended by home-education , because , whether they verbalise it or not, they take it personally. Somewhere deep down , there is an assumption that if I choose to home-educate, I must be judging your decision to send your child to school, and by extension I must be judging your parenting.
This isn’t true, but it isn’t my duty to make everyone feel comfortable, or happy, it is my job to tell the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it. Whatever I choose to represent, or show, or how I choose to title my project, there are going to be people who will dislike it.
I just have to be comfortable with that.
The below is an article from the guardian, which interviews a family unschooling ‘successfully’ as well as two prior children who were ‘unschooled’ , however I would argue this label for them, as unschooling and ‘doing nothing with your children’ is a very very different thing ! but it is a good article for context.
THOUGHTS AND POINTS OF ACTION – “The committees job is to look at the policies, administration and the expenditure of the DfE. “”Then we hold oral evidence sessions where we ask questions of a wide range of witnesses””As well as oral evidence we hold private events where we meet young people , parents and others engaged with policy at the front line, and indeed who have to live with the outcomes of those policies at the front line””Hearing from the public makes our enquiries much more valuable so we can produce better reports, and also it is one of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of being on the committee”*****
Would it be a ‘policy’ of the DfE that there was a home ed register? OR is this a wider government policy independent of the DfE? In which case, if it were not DfE does that mean it’s not the select committee’s job to even hold this enquiry?
A letter ready to release publicly as soon as the next set of witnesses is called, in anticipation of it not representing a broad range of witnesses (it may well be broad but I think we should have this ready incase?). This should be sent to DfE , PM , (there has to be an ombudsman for the government surely?) media, social media ?
If covid is ‘over’ and the world is opening up , are the select committee going to do a ‘real life’ event where they meet those of us on the front line who these policies are going to effect?
“A ten meter diving tower. People who have never been up there before have to choose whether to jump or climb down. The situation itself highlights a dilemma: to weigh the instinctive fear of taking the step out against the humiliation of having to climb down.” (Van-Aertryck. 2017)
“TEN METER TOWER is an entertaining study of the human in a vulnerable position. ” (Van-Aertryck. 2017)
“I’m just appalled that it’s taken so many years for all political parties to suddenly realise this is a problem, this should of never of got to this stage, for so many years, god knows how many children’s lives have been ruined, by behind the scenes supposed home tutoring so I am going to vote in favour of this.”
HOW CAN MY PHOTOGRAPHY RESEARCH PROJECT HELP ?
Bring attention to the fact that people that openly have an obvious prejudice and hatred against home education are involved in policy making decisions about it.
Include excerpts of these peoples words and comments in my project.
Fig 1, Graham, Rebecca 2021. Screenshot of councillor Jump along with excerpts of her contribution to the meeting.
After my 1-2-1 with Laia I decided I needed to do something to make the project, and the website, easier to follow.
I decided that a way to do this in the interim, was to condense the content on the pages.
For ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ this meant putting all of the individual films, together into one longer video.
I spent most of Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday morning creating this as it meant combining the old videos with the longer one I had originally done, changing the title pages, audio lengths, and adding extra audio and video, and then finally polishing it all up a bit.
I am much happier with the final video, both as a final product and how much cleaner it looks on the page.
HOW THE PAGE LOOKS NOW –
Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Old layout of ‘A Heuristic Interlude ‘ page.
Graham, Bekkie. 2021. New layout of ‘ A Heuristic Interlude ‘
Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Video ‘A Heuristic Interlude’
Over the last week or so, I have entered the Belfast photo festival Open submission 2021 , the Photographic Museum of humanity 2021 photographic grant, and Arles Open walls.
ARLES OPEN WALLS
For Open Walls Arles I have so far uploaded one of the two projects I am going to enter. The free upload that comes with my 1854 membership I am using to enter my 10 minute film that I have made on ‘A Heuristic Interlude’.
I am then going to enter the individual photographs from the same project into the story category as well.
The theme for this years open walls reads –
For the third edition of OpenWalls Arles, a collaboration between Galerie Huit Arles and 1854 Media, we are inviting photographers to respond to the theme Then & Now.
We are seeking images that convey a sense of reflection or the changes that time brings. How have you, or your families, grown and developed? How has the past year affected us? Has history repeated itself? What challenges face us ahead? We want artists to explore the theme in many different ways. Experiment with new work, revisit past or forgotten projects or examine your past archive and found imagery.
I may not be a filmmaker to the standard Arles is used to , having only just made my first ever attempt at a film, however, my project definitely fits the theme perfectly, being about families that are growing and adjusting to the last year, and reflecting on this in the interviews, and in their decisions.
BELFAST PHOTO FESTIVAL
I have also entered BELFAST PHOTO FESTIVAL , again with the project ‘ A Heuristic Interlude’ . For both Arles open walls and Belfast photo festival I had to rewrite my artist statement, combining some of the artist statement for the overall project of Unschooled; ‘A Heuristic study’ combined with the artist statement from ‘A Heuristic Interlude’.
My final artist statement for the project is –
Unschooled ‘ A Heuristic Study’ is comprised of three interconnecting spheres of visual research surrounding families who’s children are electively home-educated, rather than attending mainstream schools. Combining photography and video with parental interviews and audio from the families who take part in the project, taking the viewer into the hearts of the families, understanding their journeys in their own words, further contextualised through the interweaving of U.K legislation and guidance on elective home-education.
Created by the artist in response to the visual void of real life stories or representations of the home-educating community, the project was born out of the artists first-hand experience as a home-educating parent of four children, offering her a unique insight into the issues experienced by the community, as well as the positives that arise from individualised academic paths.
‘A HEURISTIC INTERLUDE’ TELLS THE STORIES OF FIVE FAMILIES IN THE U.K WHO WERE NOT HOME-EDUCATING PRIOR TO COVID LOCKDOWN, BUT SINCE TRIALING THIS WAY OF LIVING AND LEARNING – THROUGH HOME-SCHOOLING DURING THE PANDEMIC SCHOOL CLOSURES OF 2020 – HAVE EITHER DECIDED TO DEREGISTER THEIR CHILDREN FROM SCHOOL PERMENANTLY, OR ARE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING DOING SO BEFORE SCHOOLS RETURN .
THROUGH INTERTWINING VISUAL IMAGERY, PERSONAL INTERVIEWS WITH THE FAMILIES, NATIONAL HOME-SCHOOLING SURVEYS & EDUCATION BASED PANDEMIC RESEARCH, ALONG WITH ALL FIVE FAMILIES HAVING VERY DIFFERENT REASONS FOR CONSIDERING LONG-TERM ELECTIVE HOME-EDUCATION (FROM NOT ENOUGH, TO TOO MANY COVID RESTRICTIONS IN SCHOOLS, TO HAVING ENJOYED SPENDING TIME TOGETHER) I HAVE CREATED A MICROCOSM OF THE SITUATIONS MANY FAMILIES NOW FACE, WHEN DECIDING HOW BEST TO LIVE AND LEARN TOGETHER GOING FORWARDS.
Heuristic – enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves.
What I really liked about entering this award is that it asked me to put descriptions of the images in the entry. I have never had call to do this for this area of the project before, and it was really good to access a different theme in the project for the first time, WHY these families were considering home educating permanently the lockdown and it showed me how strong these work as descriptions from a sociological point of view. The descriptions I used were –
Simone & Jaison ; Needed an individualised education.
Abbi Eleanor, Elizabeth & Agatha ; Not enough Covid restrictions in schools.
Shelley & Piran ; Too many Covid restrictions in schools.
Natalie, Lilith & Skye ; An educational philosophy diametrically opposed to that practiced in schools.
Katie, Ed & their boys ; Enjoyed spending time together during lockdown and the boys thrived.
What is really great is that this shows how universal this project is. How it represented basically every parent in the U.K that was home-schooling during lockdown that considered even for a moment keeping their children home permanently. It shows this project is about everyone, not just these specific families, and that goes for across the whole of the western world, not just the U.K.
PH MUSEUM 2021 PHOTOGRAPHY GRANT
For the PH MUSEUM 2021 grant I entered images from all three of the spheres under one name of ‘ A Heuristic Study’ . For this entry I entered 20 images as a series.