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SCRIPT, New Zealand Book Review Gordon Lawrence, Pakuranga College "Highly recommended" Read Review
LACMF:LITERACY ACROSS THE CURRICULUMEDIA FOCUS, The centre for literacy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Media for action: Applying critical pedagogy David Dillon, McGill University "...excellent handbook..." Read Review
Clipboard, A Media Education Newsletter from Canada Media Action Projects John J. Pungente, SJ. Jesuit Communication Project "...urge ... to buy the book." Read Review
Trac, Media Education in Wales Video in practice Tom Barrance, Media Education Wales "... an important book ..." Read Review
Critical Arts, A Journal for Cultural Studies, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa and Murdoch University, Perth Australia. Integrating video in community development Jeanne Prinsloo, University of Natal "... incredible detail and coherence..." Read Review
MEDIACY   Barry Duncan, teacher/consultant "... exudes real life teaching experiences ..." Read Review
Triangel, MBO tijdschrift voor sociaal-pedagogisch en cultureel werk Video, nuttig maar ook gewoon leuk Jan Mars, Triangel "... leerzaam boek..." Lees Besprekding




Volume ?, number ?, december 2000.


Author: Gordon Lawrence, Head of Media Studies, Pakuranga College, Auckland, New Zealand.

When I was invited to review this title on practical video production, I immediately stereotyped the text. I expected that it would start with a chapter on video formats, move on to a chapter on choosing you video camera, then one on editing. Somewhere there would be discussion of shot sizes, camera angles and storyboarding.

Media Action Projects is not that sort of book. In fact this is a text that any media teacher would find absorbing and useful. As I read through it I was often side tracked with thoughts of how this would work in my classes. In fact this is a book worthy of reading by any teacher who wants to move into video production, but who feels insecure about how and what to do. Conversely, those teachers with a track record of practical classroom video work will also find it a sound basis for adapting their current processes.

This book is based on video project work in both Holland (Dirk Schouten) and in the United Kingdom (Rob Watling). It is a record of tried and workable concepts. These are ideas, which will work not only in a school, but could also work equally well in a community group setting. As I read through the book, I was aware of some similarities with the Media Aware Video Project which Peter Watkins ran for one year in Auckland about 10 years ago.

British Media Education guru, Len Masterman comments in his foreward that this text is: "an account of practical media work which brings together qualities we have come to think of, during the '80s and 90s, as educational polarities: it is democratic, yet rigorous; creative, yet systematic; original, yet well-tested; reflective yet active; practical but not technical; progressive yet delivering high standards."

And that is really what is exciting about the book. The project format is all of these things. A high place is given to the students' own ideas and they are encouraged to research and investigate ideas and story lines.

In this book, video production is based around a 12 stage model. This provides an organisational structure, which logically leads the production group through the process from identifying what they want to achieve, to the completed project.

The 12 Stage Model
1. Deciding the topic/conducting self research
2. Problematizing
3. Choice of theme
4. Forming a Supposition
5. Research
6. Analysis
7. The Proposition
8. Choice of target group
9. Choice of medium
10. Choice of form
11. Production
12. Presentation and Evaluation.

One aspect of this model, which I like, is the way in which production is shown to be so far into the process. That pre-production process is important and a real key to the successful outcome of the project. I sometimes feel that we all tend to put more emphasis on production rather than stressing to importance of preparation. Of course the class always wants to get on with it and get using the equipment. Consequently, teachers feel pressurized, but this book will give them the confidence to direct their classes though a media sound process.

As far as the model goes, I would have liked to see one step included for postproduction rather than it just being included in the overall production stage. I feel that post production is a stage on its own, which students need to consider as a separate production process step.

The final stage of Presentation is a key to the whole process. No production is finally completed until is has reached its audience. Within the classroom, we need to ensure that we adequately provide opportunities for our practical productions to reach beyond the confines of our room and reach their intended audience. For the production group, this gives opportunities to ascertain audience reactions and responses. They can then debrief as they evaluate these responses and the whole learning process that they have progressed thorough.

Media Action Projects takes each Model stage in turn and discusses in detail what could happen within the group. This will give any teacher new ideas for their practical classroom activities, even where they choose to not follow the project model in its entirety.

The authors identify Five Key Features of the Model.
1. Groupwork: "…..Media work is best done in groups, not the least because it is almost impossible to product a text of any complexity on an individual basis …… the model insists on pupils working in democratic groups … in this way knowledge and power are spread more evenly among group members and there are consequently fewer communication problems…."
2. Project Work: "… Project: a subject which is studied by a group …. About which a report is made, or the outcome of which is explained or shown in some way or another … it is only finished when it has been completed and fed back to others in a defined educational context…"
3. Planning: "…. There are two major dimensions to this: planning the content and planning the time available…"
4. Stress management: "….. practical media work is often stressful, particularly towards the end of the project ….. model lets the stress levels increase slightly during each stage, but leaves it much lower during the final stages than would otherwise be the case…"
5. Real and Relevant work: "…. Not a simulation or an exercise …it is not playing …it is a real piece of communication …."

In its layout, the book identifies key ideas both in the margin and key points for teachers and students within bold framed boxes placed within the text columns.

The authors advise against shooting too much footage, which is often a common problem with new student filmmakers. They also suggest mini courses of practical equipment use instruction as the need arises during the process, rather than long sessions of "How to do it" lessons before the project begins. At the end of the book they offer some useful shortcuts and variations to the Model, planning the model, some ideas on setting up editing equipment and brief comments on some projects completed through this Model Process.

In summary, this is the text that I would recommend. It is fully in tune with the best of contemporary media education, as I understand it to be. From my own teaching of practical video work, I find it a sensible and workable approach. I would see it best suiting documentary film making, but not exclusive to that. The Model could also fit other types of practical media work. I can see connections to print and radio projects. It could even work for a slide show.

Media Action Projects documents a process that has worked and could also work in any New Zealand classroom. It can be adapted to meet local requirements, which may be necessary, especially for time requirements within the overall media course.

Highly Recommended. I don't know of any publication that can equal it.



The centre for literacy, Montreal, Quebec.
Volume 13, number 4, 1998.
Review title:

Media for action: Applying critical pedagogy

Review by David Dillon, McGill University

A recurring question over the last several decades has been how to operationalize or transplant critical pedagogy in the developed world, particularly in more formal educational settings. This text contributes greatly to the answer.

At first glance, this book is an excellent handbook and practical guide for educators who want to use video in what the authors call project-based education, training and community development across a range of of age groups and educational settings. A close look, however, reveals it as a powerful explanation and advocate for critical pedagogy; it offers clear and accesible explanations and descriptions of working with groups, and of facilitating rather than instructing as a teacher. Such an accomplishment is especially recommendable in the light of the glut of professional materials discussing critical pedagogy in vague, theoretical and jargon-laden prose that has alienated interested readers more often than enabling them.

The heart ot this book is a 12-step pedagogical model for implementing project-based or action research approaches to teaching. The steps are clearly and concisely explained and richly illustrated with descriptions of work engaged in by the two authors with a range of learners from children to adults, in a range of settings from schools to community-based projects. The extensive experience and thoughtful reflection of the authors as practitioners in both England and Holland are revealed in some of the best practical advice I have read on working with groups in an approach such as this. They include topics such as fostering group consensus, helping groups problematize topics, and organizing time and resources; They also offer detailed practical advice on working with audiovisual equipment, moving from initial learning to group preparation and presentation of final products. [ See In the Classroom, p 16]

At the heart of this model is an essential pedagogy of (1) starting with a topic of interest to learners; (2) finding a problem in the topic of conflicting issues between people and hypothesizing what that problem is; (3) finding out more about the problem through direct research and analysis; (4) deciding on action that could be taken by certain people to improve the problem and (5) targeting that group's awareness and perception of the problem through the creation and presentation of a media production.

One detailed example recounts the experience of a class of 11 - 13 year-olds in a Dutch school who started with the topic of a nearby airport, problematized it around the recent proposal to expand the airport, researched the different perspectives and facts around the issue (primarily those in favour of expansion for economic reasons and those opposed to it on the basis of environmental and social disruption reasons). They produced and showed their final video to an audience of parents, neighbourhood residents and airport officials. The showing provoked dialogue, awareness and changed opinions. As the authors stress, the project is not a simulation or an excercise. It is not playing. It is a real piece of communication dealing with real issues and problems (13)

Media Action Projects has an attractive clean, and easy to follow lay-out and a text written in a concise, clear and accessible fashion. It is truly a model for the construction of handbooks.

If the text has any shortcomings, it is that it is almost too procedurally oriented. That is, it emphasizes the steps of the model and how to use video equipment with groups, but says little explicidly about the purpose and theoretical underpinning of this approach to teaching. What the pedagogy is really about and why the steps are in the order they are becomes clear only towards the end as the reader begins to see the whole picture. The experience for a reader is very much like following a new drecipe and not being sure what the outcome will be until one has almost completed it. Yet, this takes away very little from the strengts of the book.

I was struck by its inclusiveness and its potential ripple-out effect on educators beyond those already comfortably using video. Yes, experienced media educators should benefit from the wealth of experience and careful reflection. However, even newcomers should feel not only inspired, but enabled to start working with video equipment. (An important feature of the text is a self-instructional chapter for readers who have not worked with video equipment before.) Beyond the realm of video, this text would allow many educators -in schools, workplace, or community- to begin using or refining their use of project-based, critical pedagogy through the more traditional media of reading and writing or through other more recent technologies of audio recording, photography or internet.

All in all, Media Action Projects is an exceptional and usable publication that should be of interest and value to both media educators and to educators interested in applied critical pedagogy.

David Dillon is a professor in the Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montreal and a past editor of Language Arts. He is president of the board at The Centre for Literacy.

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A Media Education Newsletter from Canada

Volume 12 No.1 Summer 1998

Review by John Pugente

A new practical guide for teachers, pupils, parents, and others who want to use video in education, training and community development has been written by Dirk Schouten and Rob Watling.
MEDIA ACTION PROJECTS offers a clear twelve-step model to help facilitators and teachers to support groups as they research, produce and show audiovisual texts. The model has ben used successfully from primary schools t universities, from community groups to liberation movements throughout Europe and Africa.
As Len Masterman says in the preface, "There is nothing in the available literature to compare with it." I second Len's recommendation and urge those involved in this field of studies to buy the book.

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Media Education Wales

Issue 2, winter 1998

Video in practice

Review by Tom Barrance, Co-Director of Media Education Wales

Media Action Projects describes itself as "a new practical guide for teachers, pupils and parents who want to use video in education, training and development". It would probably have Chris Woodhead choking on his cornflakes.
Dirk Schouten is a Dutch media teacher who has developed a systematic and structured model for engaging students in media production, influenced by Freire and Freinet *. Yes, this is - deeply unfashionable - 'child-centered', or 'student-centered' education. It's about action: 'group work', 'projects', 'real and relevant work' and other heresies. You won't find any guidelines for making pop videos, news simulations, advertising campaigns or other parodies or imitations of professional practice in Media Action Projects. In Schouten and Watling's book, video is a tool for challenging the students' preconceptions about the world around them and for enabling them to make a difference to that world.

Twelve steps to enlightment

The core of the book is the 'Eerbeek model', a twelve step approach to media projects which Schouten and his colleagues have developed over a number of years. The model aims to ensure that, at every stage of the process, students are systematic about what they are doing and why they are doing it.
The twelve stages of the model take students through a process which begins with them analysing the topic to be approached and the skills and knowledge which they can bring to it, going on to challenge their own approach to the subject, form and test suppositions and select a target group. It's significant that, out of the twelve stages of the model, 'choice of medium' is number 9 and 'choise of form' is number 10. Schouten and Watling are quite clear that it's the content which is the essence of media action projects.
Len Masterman's introduction welcomes the book precisely because it is in opposition to "our now over-centralised and over-prescribed curriculum". This may well sound alarm bells for teachers who, however much they agree in principle with an holistic approach to education, might expect the model to be impossible to use within such a curriculum. But the model can in fact easily be simplified and adapted for a project of a few hours in length, as Rob Watling's articles forTrac have shown.

Challenging assumptions

One of the most useful aspects of the book is its tendency to challenge assumptions and recognized ways of working. Even if you don't agree that technique should only be taught as and when it naturally arises in the course of a project, or that imitations of professional practice are hierarchical and repressive, Schouten and Watling provide explanations of their positions which deserve attention and which are obviously based on classroom experience.
In recent years, much media education has focused on the acquisition of 'media languages' and understanding of the values communicated by the media. Watling and Schouten's approach comes from another tradition: that of media as a tool for expression and for action.
There are many clear suggestions which are designed to make the process easier. These range from overall guidelines on what percentage of the time to allocate to individual stages of the model, to indications of what shooting ratio to use, how long a shot should be, and how much detail to include when logging tapes. The main emphasis is on documentary, as Schouten and Watling see this as the most approachable form for effecting change. But the sections on planning, structuring and devising an editing scheme would be useful for any kind of video production.
The book also contains sections on simplifying and adapting the model, using it with more basic equipment, and teaching yourself the basics of the model.
Although Rob Watling has adapted and edited the book from Dirk Schouten's original text to make it more accessible, it's not an easy read. Media Action Projects takes time to digest, but it's an important book. Anyone who intends to use video in education could benefit from reading it.

Celestin Freinet (1896-1966) was an influential French pioneer of radical teaching, who believed that it was essential for learning to have a context and purpose and be relevant to the studentss' own experience

Paolo Freire (1921-1977)was a radical Latin-American teacher and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He saw education as a form of revolutionary activity and a dialogue between the teacher and the student.

For more information, visit Dirk Schouten's website

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Critical Arts: A Journal for Cultural Studies

Volume 12, number 1-2, 1998
Review title:

Integrating video in community development

Review by Jeanne Prinsloo, University of Natal.

I had a sense of nostalgia when I first read this book. Media Action has a ring reminiscent of the struggle times and the left-wing rhetoric that accompanied it. For me, it echoed of the activist media work that prevailed in South Africa in the eighties. That heady time! So the question that immediately posed itself was whether this publication has passed its sell by date and this is an issue that I will return to in this review.
The book is produced in an A4 landscape format, printed in blue with inexpert pencil-drawn illustrations similarly in blue, and it has the feel of an inexpensive handbook in keeping with the media engagement it proposes. It has resulted from a collaborative process between authors Schouten and Waitling.
Schouten who is Dutch, has an impressive background in media training and developed the model described here. Waitling is a British media researcher who has collaborated with Schouten both in working with the model and in the production of this book. It is from such depth of experience that the book emerges.
At the outset I wish to state my conviction that this publication is a valuable contribution in the area of video production within educational contexts. I am enormously impressed by the simplicity with which they deal with a process that is complex for both the participants and the facilitator, an ease that emerges from rich experience. At the same time I have a sense of frustration at what is absent from the publication and I shall refer to what I believe these issues to be.
The introduction proposes the 12 stage model as a systematic organizational structure for undertaking practical media work. However, convention has led us to anticipate that an introduction provides the opportunity for the authors to explain the structure of the book and to direct and guide their readers as to how it might be used. They neglect to do this and the consequence is that the entire book has to be read before you are sure whether your investment in this labour will pay off. As a book reviewer that is required of me, but it would be a pity for readers to discard the book too soon.
Apart from such gestures to the reader, no clear rationale for practical media work is presented. As it widely acknowledged that no educational approach is neutral, that any work is informed implicitly by cultural politics, I find it surprising that the authors do not declare themselves. While they gesture to Freire and Habermas in a throwaway line and list certain of their publications in the bibliography, it is misguided not to articulate a clear position on the relevance of such work. Masterman's foreword is more explicit but it is not the role of a foreword to achieve this. This eschewal of an explicit theoretical position weakens the initiative.
By interpreting the implied form of pedagogy and other asides here and there, it is apparent that notions of emancipatory pedagogy inform this work. Premised on critical pedagogy, such work is centrally concerned with conscientization and empowerment, issues that the authors raise, albeit briefly, in the introduction: "… students are made powerful in the classroom and come to use that power in positive and purposeful ways" (1997:7). Similarly, a concern with social justice and proactive engagement in the public sphere are also elements of this critical position that was postulated in the eighties. It acknowledged institutional and media power while proposing that individuals were not entirely helpless. It is unsurprising that this was the practice that was grasped by activist groupings. I recall the media activist grouping in South Africa at that time that drew upon these theoretical insights and also the rationalist enterprise that these propose. 'Inform the people, let people know how this impacts on their lives' seemed to be the driving idea. The blurb on the back cover refers to the successful use of the model 'throughout Europe and Africa, in settings ranging from primary schools to universities, from community groups to liberation movements'. The liberation groupings in Africa it refers to no longer exist. Instead I find myself thinking of right-wing groupings though who might find this entirely seductive. So again I find myself repeating the question. Is this a relevant model now? This takes me back to why I feel the omission of being explicit about the underpinning theory is a problem. I also sense that elements of the theory underpinning might be problematic, which if made explicit, could have been debated more fairly.
I have to assume that the references to Freire and Habermas are the informing strands. Yet critical pedagogy has drawn upon Freire and recognized the limitations of his work. Like Freire, it proposes education that serves as a form of potential transformation, but it explicitly calls for a democratic curriculum; it announces its cultural politics and its rationale for engaging in the public sphere, not simply because they are 'real issues' but to (re)democratize societies. Well-known critical educator Henry Giroux stresses the public sphere:

Academics can no longer retreat into their careers, classrooms or symposiums as if they were the only spheres available for engaging the power of ideas and the relations of power. Foucault's (1977) notion of the specific intellectual taking up struggles connected to particular issues and contexts must be combined with Gramsci's (1971) notion of the engaged intellectual who connects his or her work to broader social concerns that deeply affect how people live, work and survive (1991:57)

While a concern with the public sphere is advocated explicitly and a rationalist impulse implicitly informs the publication under consideration, it does not deal adequately with the nature of the constructions that emerge from these group decision-making processes. They do not speak to the facilitator of how this use of power is necessarily positive, or to whom they might appear positive. If a grouping formed around some perceived 'cultural' membership, be it language, nationality or religion, argued for separatism, for whom is this positive? If the process serves to reinforce undemocratic attitudes, what then? Now, I do not introduce ideas that have not been debated considerably, but my concern is that the model does not address this adequately in terms of an initial declaration, nor within its attention on facilitation.
These later versions of critical or emancipatory pedagogy are informed by theories that have been described as feminist, postcolonial, poststructural, postmodern and so on. What they have in common is an acknowledgement of identity politics and of the complex formation of subjectivities. For this reason it is explicitly concerned with how knowledge is constructed in relations of power and how representation never approximates the real.
Moving to the model itself then, one is struck with its incredible detail and coherence. I shall refer first of all to the final stage twelve of 'presentation and evaluation'. For those unfamiliar with video production informed by critical pedagogy, this might seem an additional extra or unnecessary moment after the deed. Rather, it is an essential element of the activist impulse, the impetus for engagement in the public sphere, the raison d'être of the enterprise. Then, the phase of actual production positioned at stage eleven of twelve might also come as a surprise. Yet it is the careful organization that precedes this stage that enables the proposed work to be achieved in an organized and coherent way. It is in the break down of these earlier planning stages that the real value of this model lies. Here it is that the wealth of experience of the authors is manifest.
The five features that underpin the model are outlined and this comes a bit closer to indicating the cultural politics informing the work. First, groupwork identifies democratic decision making as inherent to the model. Here, as elsewhere, very clear guidelines to details for facilitation are given, for example, as to appropriate sizes for groups. Second, the project work feature emphasizes that the work is not over until it has been completed and 'fed back to others in a defined educational context' (1997:12). Third, planning both time and content are critical in order to foresee and avoid difficulties. The ten early stages of the model respond to this demand. The fourth feature of stress management, again built into the model consistently, is a critical component of work that intends to be empowering rather than destructive. For facilitators of such work this inclusion is invaluable. (Memories of fall-outs in media activist work sound as echoes in my brain.) The final feature is described as 'Real and Relevant Work'. Now, while I find this rather a naïve way to describe the project, the focus of this work is upon actual events, material conditions and upon learners taking an active engagement with such concerns.
The successive stages of the model are presented in detail and throughout there is emphasis on elements described in the features. Participation is ensured, pointers to avoid damaging conflictual situations are presented and the extent to which the facilitator should intervene is explained. The model is described sequentially, but allows for flexibility, for example, the three early stages of introduction, self-research and problematization in practice are frequently combined.
Too frequently approaches to media production get bogged down in unneces- sarily detailed training, that is daunting for the participant and consequently tends to be counter-productive. The model under discussion avoids a technicist approach to technical training. Learners begin to use equipment at the research stage, as a research tool, for the first time and the training given to the learners (who are now media makers) is specific to the purpose. Here, the learners are required to reflect thoughtfully on their experiences and insights. From research insights, they are able to formulate a proposition, consider target audiences, select the medium of their work and the form of the text before going into production. Here again is evidence of the experiential pedagogy underpinned by the notion of holistic and emancipatory learning (Henry 1989, Kolb 1989) that underpins this work.
The nature of the detail of the processes both in planning and production phases speaks to the depth of experience of the authors. It offers valuable information about timing in relation to different kinds of projects and different levels of learners. It ensures that it is accessible as a model by including a systematic section on self-teaching for facilitators to develop their confidence. I think it is a pity that this wasn't mentioned earlier in the introduction. It provides notes on simpler types of equipment and practical accounts of practice, which serve to make the model explicit.
When I stand back from the actual book and the model and ask myself what this book and this model are useful for, I find that I return to my original question. Firstly, it must be stated that this book deals specifically with a single genre and not with media production in general. As such, this is a brilliant handbook for anyone who wishes to facilitate documentary type video productions and I would recommend it more highly than any other publication for this purpose. I laud its engagement with the material world beyond the individualistic interests of 'learner-centered' education. The documentary is a genre that provides the occasion for expository work, for constructing arguments, for looking at different sides of the coin. In many countries in the world it is also a neglected genre in the realm of textual studies in schooling. Documentary forms are also very prevalent and propose a privileged authority within certain media. News and current affairs can be considered sub-genres or versions of documentary. An awareness of the constructedness of media messages, of their being partial, of their audience orientation are the critical insights that I would hope that the participants will learn from their own experiences. They will hopefully realize that these 'real events' that the authors speak of glibly, are never really present in the media.
Yet, I also have to say that this is not enough. I do not want to suggest that this book is found wanting for confining itself to elaborating a model of such depth. Rather, and this links to my earlier concerns, it needs to announce its specific goals as circumscribed. Otherwise, if it speaks of media action at the end of the twentieth century, it needs to explore the potential media forms. What scope do other genres offer that can serve other purposes relating to social justice? What possibilities lie within computer-based communication? Or, how does this all relate to those who are globally disenfranchised and for whom global access to media remains largely as access to northern consumerist fantasia?

Henry, J. (1989). Meaning and practice in experiential learning. Making sense of Experiential Learning. Diversity in Theory and Practice. S. Weil and I. McGill. Guildford, OU Press.

King, M. and O. van den Berg (1991). The Politics of Curriculum: Structu- res and Processes. Pietermaritzburg, Centaur.

Giroux, H. 1991. Postmodernism, Feminism and Cultural Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Jeanne Prinsloo is lecturer, School of Education, University of Natal, and a co-editor of Media Matters in South Africa, a book on the first media in education conference held in South Africa in 1990.

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Newsletter of The Association for Media Literacy, Ontario, Canada.
Winter 1999
Author: Barry Duncan.

There are several books available which provide an overview of video production - how to do scripts, the parts and functions of a camera, basic editing techniques etc. What is missing is a realisitic exploration of the inherent challenges at each stage of production. Based on extensive classroom and field experience, here is finally a book which provides an excellent overview of the stages and provides a workable 12 stage model in such areas as self research, problematizing, choice of theme etc. This resource book text exudes real life teaching experiences as the following excerpt suggests. "There is a risk that the group will go into too much detail at this stage. This can be at the expense of developing the overview and will often cause confusion and wasted time." The success or failure of video production depends largley on thoughtful, sequential organization. Schouten and Watling seem to have found the important answers. Best to order through Theatre Books, Toronto.

Barry Duncan is a teacher/consultant, founding president and past president of The Association for Media Literacy.

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Triangel, MBO tijdschrift voor sociaal-pedagogisch werk en sociaal cultureel werk

15e jaargang, 1999, nummer 4
Uitgeverij SWP, Utrecht

Video: nuttig, maar ook gewoon leuk

Jan Mars

Doordat de huidige videocamera's zo eenvoudig te bedienen zijn, is het heel verleidelijk om maar gewoon wat plaatjes te schieten en die bij voorbeeld aan ouders te laten zien. Succes verzekerd. Je kunt ook proberen om met behulp van video- opnamen beter te kijken naar de kinderen. Een video over kwetsbare kinderen in de kinderopvang is een prachtig voorbeeld van dat betere kijken. En met video kun je kinderen ook meer zicht laten krijgen op hun eigen leefomgeving.

Op het Zevende Congres Kinderopvang, op 24 maart van dit jaar, maakte Marianne Riksen-Walraven, hoogleraar kinderopvang aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, een behartenswaardige opmerking over het werken in de kinderopvang. In de kinderopvang, zei ze, draait het om de kinderen. Zij moeten het er naar hun zin hebben, en de leidsters moeten ervoor zorgen dat de kinderen er een plezierige tijd hebben. Daarvoor moeten die leidsters vooral veel kijken naar de kinderen, want daaraan kun je zien hoe het met ze gaat en of ze werkelijk een plezierige tijd hebben.
Riksen-Walraven gaf daarop de suggestie met een videocamera een tijd lang ‚‚n kind op te nemen. Dat lijkt een goede suggestie. Door een videocamera kijk je veel intensiever naar kinderen dan als je samen met ze bezig bent met een werkje of een spelletje. Je ziet meer, doordat je gericht kijkt. Bovendien maak je een opname, zodat je naderhand nog nauwkeuriger naar zo'n 'solo-optreden' van ‚‚n kind kunt kijken.
Jij en jouw team kunnen daar veel aan hebben. Door er als team samen naar te kijken, ontdek je of het gefilmde kind zich in jouw groep prettig voelt. Daarnaast kun je er allerlei dingen uit afleiden over het pedagogisch klimaat, over groepsprocessen, over de plaats van het gefilmde kind in de groep, over de invloed van de ruimte op het spelen van kinderen, over de manieren waarop kinderen kunnen spelen.
Daarvoor moet het team naar de opname kijken met een soort observatiekader in het achterhoofd. Wat doet dit kind in die tijd? Met wie doet het dat? Vindt dit kind het leuk om dit te doen? Waar zie je dat aan? Kun je zien of dit kind zich op zijn gemak voelt? Waar zie je dat dan aan?
Er zijn natuurlijk honderd van zulke observatievragen te bedenken. De antwoorden die erop gegeven worden, kunnen leiden tot allerlei acties op heel uiteenlopende gebieden. Een kind dat een tijdlang zo nauwgezet gevolgd wordt met een videocamera, laat gedragingen zien die je al van hem kent, maar hij doet zeker ook dingen die nieuw voor je zijn. Andere kinderen doen dingen met hem, en hij doet van alles met andere kinderen. Die groepsprocessen zullen je bekend voorkomen. Toch moet je je blijven afvragen of je die bepaalde acties echt al eens eerder gezien hebt.
Ook het gebruik van de ruimte wordt heel zichtbaar op een video-opname. Kinderen moeten de gelegenheid hebben om zich in alle opzichten en op alle manieren uit te leven. Als ze willen rondhollen maar daarbij onvermijdelijk andere kinderen storen als die een rustig zit-werkje doen, dan is de ruimte niet optimaal bruikbaar voor de kinderen. Dat zie je dan onmiddellijk. Misschien dat je met het verzetten van wat meubels scheidingen in de ruimte kunt aanbrengen, die ook scheidingen tussen verschillende activiteiten zijn.

Kijken naar kinderen
Een heel bijzondere manier van kijken naar kinderen is de videoband Kind met andere kinderen. De band is de visualisering van het boek Kwetsbare kinderen in de kinderopvang, dat Netty Jongepier vorig jaar publiceerde, en kan dienen als inspirerend voorbeeld, niet alleen van een vanzelfsprekende manier van omgaan met kwetsbare kinderen, maar zeker ook van intensief kijken naar kinderen.
De video is gemaakt door een professionele filmer, Cl‚ Jansen. Dat betekent dat hij qua filmische kwaliteiten voor leken moeilijk te evenaren zal zijn. Je kunt je er als leek echter wel door laten inspireren, juist doordat hier zichtbaar wordt hoe goed je de kinderen ziet en hoe van nabij ze gefilmd kunnen worden.
De video Kind met andere kinderen is opgenomen in twee kinderdagverblijven en een peuterspeelzaal. Alle drie hebben die de gezamenlijke en ge‹ntegreerde opvang van alle kinderen als doelstelling. In de video laten ze zien wat het betekent om kwetsbare kinderen in je groep opgenomen te hebben. Daarbij is het verrassend hoe weinig bijzonder de leidsters daarover doen. Het meest opvallende aan de video-opnamen is wel dat er zo weinig bijzonders te zien is. Een jongetje met Downsyndroom, een 5-jarige die niet kan praten of lopen, kinderen die sondevoeding moeten krijgen, kinderen met geweldige ontwikkelingsachterstanden en sociale en emotionele problemen, ze zijn allemaal heel gewoon onderdeel van de groep, zonder dat iemand daar erg moeilijk over doet. De videoband is onder meer bedoeld voor scholingen op het gebied van de omgang met kwetsbare kinderen, dat wil zeggen, kinderen die in de kinderopvang bijzondere zorg vragen. Dat kan zijn vanwege een lichamelijke of geestelijke handicap, wegens chronische ziekte, extreme gedragsproblemen of een problematische thuissituatie.
Leidsters zien er soms erg tegenop om een kwetsbaar kind in de groep op te nemen, omdat ze vrezen dat het te veel aandacht nodig zal hebben, of dat het een aanpak vergt die ze niet beheersen. Met name allerlei semi-medische handelingen als sondevoeding geven of injecteren horen immers niet echt bij de standaardopleiding van leidsters. De videoband laat zien dat die vrees overbodig is. 'Door zich in te leven in het kind,' stelt de handleiding, 'kunnen leidsters de beste benadering op het spoor komen. Het is nodig om bij kwetsbare kinderen steeds kritisch te kijken naar de gangbare aanpak en je af te vragen of deze voldoet, of dat er andere accenten nodig zijn.'
Wat voor alle kinderen geldt, moet misschien voor kwetsbare kinderen een extra accent krijgen. De band vertelt dat in vijf 'hoofdstukken', waarin de belangrijkste punten naar voren komen: een veilige plek, ruimte en respect, structuur en duidelijkheid, groei en ontwikkeling, en kind-zijn met andere kinderen. Dit zijn de vijf punten die ook aan de orde komen in Jongepiers boek over kwetsbare kinderen in de kinderopvang. De beelden laten zien hoe leidsters op die aspecten van de omgang met kinderen kunnen werken. Vanwege die voorbeeldfunctie is de video heel geschikt voor scholingen, van ervaren kinderopvangleidsters. Ook in de opleidingen kan de band een goede aanleiding zijn voor discussies en standpuntbepalingen. In de handleiding bij de video worden uitgebreide suggesties voor het gebruik van de band gegeven. De begeleider of docent die de video gebruikt in een dergelijke scholing vindt in de handleiding een hele reeks discussiepunten en meningsvormende vragen. Na het bekijken van de band kan de scholing daarmee een richting krijgen. Daarbij is het duidelijk de vooronderstelling dat de opvang van kwetsbare kinderen samen met 'gewone' kinderen in dezelfde groep mogelijk is. De video laat zien dat dat een terechte vooronderstelling is.
Overigens werd bij de presentatie van de videoband ook nog gesuggereerd dat hij een rol zou kunnen spelen bij de werving van leidsters voor de kinderopvang, omdat de beelden zo prachtig laten zien wat een fantastisch vak het eigenlijk is, leidster in de kinderopvang.

Zelf de camera ter hand
Video is een buitengewoon krachtige manier om de meest uiteenlopende dingen aan andere mensen te laten zien. De beelden die je maakt van de kinderen in jouw kinderopvanggroep zijn onmiddellijk bruikbaar voor vertoning aan bij voorbeeld de ouders en tonen, veel duidelijker dan een langdurig praatje dat kan, hoe de groep dagelijks met elkaar verkeert.
De professioneel gemaakte film Kind met andere kinderen biedt indringende en soms werkelijk ontroerende beelden van schijnbaar gewone kinderen die ondanks hun handicap een prettige tijd in de reguliere kinderopvang hebben. Niet voor niets werd deze film gemaakt ter ondersteuning van het boek Kwetsbare kinderen in de kinderopvang: deze beelden zijn indringender en breder bruikbaar. Zo zijn ze bedoeld en zo werkt het ook.
Video is zo krachtig, dat het gebruikt kan worden door mensen, en kinderen, om de eigen omgeving te verkennen en te begrijpen, om greep te krijgen op de eigen omgeving. In een leerzaam boek, Media Action Projects, leggen Dirk Schouten en Rob Watling praktisch en concreet uit hoe dat kan en hoe het werkt.
Een van de aardige dingen aan het boek is dat Schouten en Watling het maken van video-opnamen, van een audio-visiele productie, zoals ze het noemen, benaderen alsof het vanzelf spreekt, zoals schrijven en praten vanzelf spreekt. Hun veronderstelling is dat iedereen in staat is een audio-visuele productie te maken. De argumenten die ze daarvoor geven, klinken heelovertuigend.
Het zijn allereerst argumenten vanuit het omgekeerde. De auteurs vertellen over andere benaderingen van het gebruik van video door studenten, leerlingen, kinderen, en laten helder zien waarom die minder goed zijn dan hun eigen model. Zo is er de methode van 'in het diepe gooien' van een groep studenten: je geeft ze een camera en dan zien ze verder maar. Dat werkt niet, omdat er dan een structuur ontbreekt die een groep drijvende houdt en die de aandacht bij een onderwerp houdt. Evenmin zinvol is de benadering die de professionele filmerspraktijk imiteert. Daarbij wordt een idee eerst op papier uitgewerkt, met een storyboard en een script, waarna de groep met een duidelijke taakverdeling aan het filmen gaat. Dat werkt volgens Schouten en Watling niet, omdat deze werkwijze een kunstmatige hiërarchische groepsopbouw nodig maakt, waardoor gemakkelijk allerlei goede ideeën genegeerd kunnen worden.
In een derde benadering leren de kinderen eerst hoe de techniek werkt. Volgens Schouten en Watling lijkt dat een zinvolle methode. Echter, deze benadering maakt techniek veel belangrijker dan het eigenlijk is, ze verleidt de filmmakers meer aandacht te besteden aan de vorm dan aan de inhoud van hun audio-visuele productie, en het leidt er bovendien toe dat er heel veel tijd moet worden gestoken in allerlei overbodige oefeningen met geluid en beeld.
Het model van Schouten en Watling, dat in allerlei verschillende contexten zijn waarde heeft bewezen, bestaat uit twaalf stappen. De kracht ervan is dat de groep als groep aan het werk gaat en gedurende het proces gezamenlijk oplossingen vindt voor opkomende kwesties.
Dat begint al bij het allereerste begin, de beantwoording van de vraag waar de productie over moet gaan. Omdat de audio- visuele productie door enkele leerlingen samen wordt gemaakt, is het absoluut noodzakelijk dat iedereen het eens is over het onderwerp. Het model van Schouten en Watling formuleert drie fases voordat definitief vast staat welk onderwerp in de productie belicht gaat worden. Die stappen zijn:
zelfonderzoek, problematiseren, en themakeuze.
In elk van die stappen hebben alle groepsleden evenveel mogelijkheden tot inbreng. Het is wel belangrijk dat een begeleider vooraf duidelijk maakt binnen welke grenzen de onderwerpen moeten liggen. Dat voorkomt dat een groep een productie wil maken over wildparken in Afrika terwijl er geen geld is voor een vliegreis erheen. Het onderwerp van de productie moet, met andere woorden, onderzoekbaar, realistisch en haalbaar zijn. De tweede voorwaarde die aan een onderwerp gesteld moet worden is dat het relevant is voor de makers van de productie. Met andere woorden: het moet een onderwerp zijn waar ze zelf iets mee te maken hebben. Een groep die zich gaat bezighouden met dinosaurussen verzandt bijna vanzelf in oppervlakkigheden of in het nakauwen van wat er in boeken staat. Een groep die als onderwerp kiest de plotselinge mode in dinosaurussen, vindt mogelijk allerlei interessante dingen over reclame en marketing en verkooptrucs.


Netty Jongepier: Kwetsbare kinderen in de kinderopvang, Utrecht (NIZW) 1998.

Netty Jongepier: Signalering in de kinderopvang; in Triangel, jrg. 14 (1997-98), nr. 2.

Dirk Schouten & Rob Watling: Media Action Project: A Model for Integrating Video in Project-based Educstion, Training and Community Development; Nottingham (Urban Programme Research Group, School of Education, University of Nottingham) 1997, ISBN 0 85359 209 8.

De videoband Kind met andere kinderen is met handleiding te bestellen bij het NIZW, postbus 19152, 3501 DD Utrecht, 030- 2306607,, bestelnummer E 220211.

Jan Mars publiceert over onderwijs, opvoeding en jeugdbeleid en is eindredacteur van Triangel.

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