Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A photo is only half the story!

A happy child in the rain but they won't all be happy!!
I am a big advocate of social media and all the benefits it has brought to me as an educator - I have lost count of the amount of ideas I have gleaned from being able to follow other educators around the world and I have made life long friendships that have also transferred into 'real' friendships.
However, there are downsides to this ability to 'see' into other settings across the globe - it is very easy to see something and think 'Oh I could do that' without actually considering the whole picture, we can't transport practice or ideas from one place into ours without having to tweak or change parts of it. How many of us have seen fantastic art ideas on Pinterest, only to discover that it is not as simple as it looks from photographs or, more importantly, that a single photo showing an end result can't ever truly tell you the whole story and how much preparation is actually needed to get that end result! I have tried painting with balloons - it was great fun but at no point in the original post did anyone mention the balloons would end up bouncing all over the floor leaving a trail of paint, or that some children would manage to burst them! 
Water beads are great fun but they will bounce everywhere & get squashed!
It was the same with the whole water beads craze, no one had warned me just how bouncy they were and the first day we had them in the water tray was spent chasing them all over the classroom! I still use them every year but I warn the children that they will bounce if they throw them about and to try and be careful not to squash them too soon!

I am always amazed by the people who may follow my blog thinking I am an outdoor preschool but then that mis conception is understandable as most of my posts are about being outdoors! But in reality I am a standard nursery class teacher with an indoor classroom and we do actually spend equal amounts indoors as outdoors and some days we may even be inside more than we are outside!! 

We can never, ever tell the whole story from a photograph and we should never make snap judgments on them either. I have made some good friends by simply asking a question about something I have seen in a photograph and I would advise trying this rather than adding a snarky comment on a photograph or assuming you know the backstory to what is going on in the photo. I am so glad I first asked Lesley over at Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School about the coloured bottles I saw all over her playground or else my journey with Bottle Babies would never have begun.
A passel of Bottle Babies!
The photos we post online are usually chosen because they are a good reflection of what we are trying to portray but that also means that they are not going to give an accurate snap of what was actually happening in the wider scheme of things - a good example is photos we might share of children paying in the snow, these photos will usually show happy children making snow angels etc., we don't post photos of a child who was crying because they were too cold or their hands had got too sore from playing with snow. 
I usually have 26 - 28 children in my class and on a cold, wet day there will always be the hard core of 10-12 children who get on their rain gear (waterproofs) and head off into the rain to play whilst another 10-12 will be content to play under the covered area but crucially there will be 1-2 who will be moaning or whining the whole time we are outside about being too cold or wet etc. We do of course layer them up with extra coats, scarves & gloves etc. but there will always be one of two children who just hate the cold but we have to look at the bigger picture and consider the needs of the majority, so we will stay outside. 

So, please never look at photos and be really jealous or judgmental of another setting - appreciate the photo for what it is, an opportunity to get a glimpse into that setting but be aware it is never truly the whole story!


  1. Kierna, you hit the nail on the head. I agree! In discussing my daycare/business, my daughter always has an idea she saw here or there- often Pinterest or Tumblr. I was just saying to her the other day that with social media, we have raised expectations of the most unrealistic "ideas".

  2. Kierna, I could not agree more. If someone thinks they can just take an activity and import it into their classroom, they are selling themselves and their children short. The reason is because there are competencies, attitudes and values both on the part of the teacher and the children that cannot be consumed. I just read something from a six-year-old child at Reggio in an Australian book called Danicing with Reggio Emilia by Stefania Giamminuti. It goes like this: "You can't have the soul that's inside somebody else."