Week 9. The trouble with …. 22.03.20

Week 9. The trouble with …. 22.03.20


This is going to be a very honest post on where I personally feel I up until now have fallen short in the MA this module.

I came to the MA knowing exactly what I wanted to research. I wanted to produce a large body of work that focused on alternative education in it’s many forms.

At the time I didn’t at the time understand how the MA worked, with the different modules. I certainly didn’t understand the sheer volume of research you have to do.

Once I properly understood this, and what was expected of me, I came up with a focus of study for myself. I was still open to experimentation and how I produced and delivered my project, but these were the bases of my research projects each module. 

Module 1, experimentation of  an overview of different alternative education outputs

Module 2, Home educating families in their own homes in Cornwall. Sowing the variation between families. 

Module 3, A personal focus on my own family’s home education, what we do and why we do it.

Module 4, Democratic schools, Forest schools, home ed coops showing the collective community.

FMP , Bringing it all together into one cohesive body of work visually illustrating the many varied forms of alternative education, and gluing it all together with the final pieces of work focusing on world schooling families. To be presented in an informative, educational book, intended for people looking into education outside of the worldwide state school systems, either as a parent, an educator, or just someone with an interest in different ways of living

By the end of the MA , I would have a large, cohesive body of work showing the potentials and value of alternative education in  it’s many varying forms, the message being one of respect and inclusivity. That there is, despite the governments approach , no ‘right’ way to educate, that there are as many viable and beautiful ways of educating as there are families practicing alternative educational methods.

Since I started the MA I have wanted to quit three times.

Each time I have been so close. I am an educator within an educational system that I technically don’t agree with some parts of. I rationalise this in my own head by saying it’s ok, it’s self directed learning. I don’t disagree with the idea of educational establishments, it is some of their ideas & practices that I disagree with. 

On this course I have met some amazing artistic people that I have connected with, I have made friends, I have learnt from people I would never of known in ‘real’ life. The tutors have a wealth of knowledge that is valuable , and has made me grow so much as an artist in only these nine months since I started.

However, I was loosing myself. I was being influenced and loosing track of my own goals.

Someone says don’t make the images so beautiful, another says don’t be so nostalgic, another thinks I should show the children more, another thinks I should show the children less, some think I should show pedagogical spaces, some think more traces, some think I should photograph the house work to show how we live ands hat real life is like, some think just photograph the traces of the education, and before you know it I am doing a totally different project to the one I set out to complete in the first place.

This is not a project naturally evolving through educational advancement and critically informed opinions, this is creating an entirely new project, this is loosing direction.

Steph said at our last one to one, she thought that I had 3/4/5 different ideas, & I it seemed like I didn’t know where I was going with my project.

Nothing was further from the truth when I started out. I new exactly what my project was, what my intent was. This lack of resolve, came from feeling like what I am doing wasn’t understood, or wasn’t valued. I felt that I needed to follow everything the tutors said, to try and please them all, to try and gain the most from their knowledge. To get the most from the course , to get the best grades.

That lack of confidence Steph saw, that is because I listened too much to everyone else, and I lost my own voice, I lost my resolve, and I lost my courage along the way. 

The irony here, is that this is exactly the reason I chose to take my first child out of school. They didn’t ‘get’ him, they didn’t get his ideas, they didn’t understand him. They thought he was naughty, they didn’t understand what was going on in his imagination. He wilted under that pressure.

I am literally part of the problem. I perpetuate those problems within the institutions that I have a grievance with.

I am complicit my own metamorphosis.

There has to be a line you can tread where you respect your peers and tutors feedback, you take it on board, you listen, you really listen, but then you ultimately decide for yourself. This is said a lot in the MA, but I feel like it’s not really followed a lot of the time.

In the first module Jesse wanted me to work solely in colour, I had already completed my WIP in black and white, I stuck with black and white. I was true to my artistic vision and my artistic voice.

Since then, I feel like I have lost my voice.

This is not the tutors faults, this is entirely my own fault.

There are other students on the course who I am sure have not fallen prey to this.

Maybe this is the difference between a young child in school who thrives in the educational system, and the children that don’t, child or adult, some people cannot keep their own voice, their own thoughts, their own resolve and they shrink under the system.

I am done shrinking, and I am done caring so much about grades.

I am done trying to be so respectful of the tutors, that I end up disrespecting myself in the process. 

I want a distinction. I want to it to show that I have done this all on my own, only GCSE’s , no levels, no degree, and self taught photography, and I  did that all on my own, essentially I ‘home educated’ myself photography, if I were to get a distinction, it would SHOW home education works.

What I have come to realise this week though, is that I do not want this distinction if it isn’t for MY project.

Jesse was right about working in colour.

Steph was right about continuing to work through the pandemic.

I am right about my project however.

I am creating a photographic body of work that has never been attempted before, not on this scale, and certainly not from an inside voice within the alternative education community .

Some photographers have photographed their own home educating family successfully (Alan Laboile, Nikki Boon), some have photographed their homes and personally families stories beautifully (Sian Davey, Ally Mann, Clare Gallagher, Elinore Carucci), some have photographed alternative communities in beautiful testaments of these lives (Clare Richardson, Justine Kurland, Jordi Ruiz Sierra ) , but no-one has done what I am attempting to do, I truly believe this could be a seminal body of work. It could be a hugely important resource for all parents, for people on a path to alternative education, teachers, educators, the scope of this project is huge.

I respect this idea immensely, I respect this aesthetic, and I respect myself enough to learn and to grow, to stay respectful, but to stay true to the vision that bought me here.





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