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Teaching Through Photography

In South Africa, education often relies heavily on copying from the blackboard and repeating after the teacher. "There's very little critical thinking," says Ellen Rosenberg, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Children of South Africa (CHOSA). One aim of her organization is to teach children to think creatively about their surroundings through art — specifically through photography.

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It's one of many photography outreach programs, and one of many programs implemented by CHOSA. The children, mostly ages 11 to 17, are given simple 35 mm cameras and are taught the basic concepts of light and composition. Most importantly, they are given assignments that allow them to think about their place in the community. For example, one assignment was to capture emotion without showing faces, which resulted in images of shadows, hands and animals.

A collection called "Amafoto Ethu" ("Our Photos"), which features images taken by children of Baphumelele Children's Home and Emasithandane Children's Project, will be on display June 3 in Washington, D.C., in a fundraising effort to perpetuate similar projects. To learn more about the project, the nonprofit and the event, go to CHOSA's Web site.

by Claire O'Neill

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