Friday, March 30, 2012

Broaden Students' Images of Hispanic Cultures

Rescate. Does this image fall within your imaginary for "Hispanic cultures" ? It should.
by Ann Abbott

In yesterday's post I wrote about the necessity to always switch students back and forth between the cultural "close-up" that community service learning (CSL) provides and broader perspectives about immigration, policy issues, diversity among Latinos (racial, socio-economic class, countries of origen, etc.), to name just a few.

That is hard to do!

Not only does it take really skilled lesson planning to accomplish that, it also assumes that students in all Spanish classes throughout the curriculum are also exposed to a variety of Hispanic cultural realities.

Unfortunately, the visual images in the traditional Spanish curriculum are stale. And many courses in the college curriculum do not include visual imagery much if at all. It's often all text, all the time.

Fortunately, I continue to be amazed at the wealth of images that flow across my Twitter stream and pop up on Pinterest. Images that truly reveal something about many different Hispanic cultures. Images that capture the "now-ness" within Hispanic cultures. The playfulness. Images that would actually grab a student's attention.

Here are just two samples of images that go beyond flags, market scenes and plazas.

Photo representing "Tatuaje" on Photo Vocab.
Photo Vocab. Spanish Word of the Day. These images are beautiful, striking and thought-provoking. I don't know how helpful a random stream of vocabulary is, but the visual impact of the photos is what I would care most about for my students.

I also like that this site uses images from all over the globe. That might seem contradictory on a site for Spanish vocabulary, but I think that we paint ourselves into a "provincial" corner when we insist on separating Hispanic cultures from the global context of which they are naturally a part.

The Iconics, by Mexican photographer Olga Laris.
Olga Laris, Mexican photographer. I saw this image on Zambombazo and I immediately wanted to know more about this mixture of iconic imagery and the freshness and playfulness of the its reinterpretation. In traditional Spanish curricula, Frida Kahlo seems to be as close as it gets to contemporary art. But Mexican art can also look as sharp and "new" as Olga Laris's work.

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