Old Photos Tell the Story

When they came up with the term visual learner, they could have molded it from my son. He has to see it to believe it, know it, and understand it. All our learning has to be punctuated by something visual before we can go into the doing.

Encyclopedias, the internet and old history books, all with their plethora of photos, illustrations, graphs etc, help him really understand. Hands on is very important for him as well however the seeing first seems to lock it in his mind.

On a yahoo list the other day, someone shared a great website that has created an opportunity for impromptu learning in our family. We are enjoying it immensely. In one week since subscribing, my son has been looking forward to the daily email.

It’s www.shorpy.com, a 100 year old photo blog where people share random old photographs, mostly black and white though there are some colorized images, “from the dawn of photography to the 1940s”.  Once you subscribe, you receive a daily email highlighting some of the old photographs.

The images vary and that’s what makes it so interesting. The pictures spark conversations, research, laughter, food for thought. For example, on the site, we clicked on A picture of a boy with a dirty face.  His name was Shorpy Higginbotham, a child coal miner who lived 100 years ago and whom the site is named after. My son was stunned to learn about child labor, dangerous mine work and how little they earned. It has led to many conversations on the topic since.

Article By Nuria Almeida

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One comment

  1. The oft-neglected visual approach is one of my favorite things to use in classes, particularly when it’s related to history. Read up on some of the ancient conflicts or medieval history and you can see that Hollywood knows nothing. But when the same information is conveyed in the classroom, sometimes it comes across flat. I love to show pictures of items and people from the time and, if possible, from our time as well. One of my favorite examples is teaching on the Siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great, in which Alexander turned the island city of Tyre into a peninsula. Then I punctuate it with a Google Maps view of Tyre today, where it’s still a peninsula.


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