Saturday, August 16, 2008

Year 8 Camp

Last week (not the week just gone, which I started feeling ill and ended with no voice, but the week before: Monday 4th to Wednesday 6th August to be precise) I went on our school's Year 8 Camp. It was at Rowallan Park, just on the North-West outskirts of Mackay. The weather was perfect - cool but not too cold at night, and beautiful sunny days.

I saw a few clever T-shirts. Some students seemed to bring far too much - and some of their tents were huge! Fortunately nobody was without a tent to sleep in. (Except us teachers, but we had dorms well away from where the students were.)

Games and activities filled most of the day time. There were an incredible number of injuries, the first (a twisted ankle) within about 10 minutes of the start of the first activity.

The students' Year 11 mentors dropped in on Tuesday, and set up an awesome obstacle course. Even the teachers enjoyed it! But it certainly involved a lot of mud!

And of course no camp is complete without a campfire!

Before the campfire, the students were given a ‘survivor’ activity in which they had to prepare their own meal. But first they had to hunt for some slips of paper with food items written on them, which they could exchange for pieces of food. I was in charge of dispensing the food. My favourite moment was when one group handed me two bits of paper labelled “onion”. I gave them a piece of onion. They complained, “But that's only one piece, not two.” So I took the piece back, chopped it in half, and gave it back to them again, saying, “There you go, now it's two!”

Our Year 8 students really need to learn to look after their own stuff, though. They kept leaving personal items lying around. They just have no idea what can happen if they're not careful…

(I would upload a whole lot more photos from camp—some lovely portraits of a few of my students, for example—but they all have students in them, whose images I may not post here. Sorry.)


deskbound said...

You can't post pictures of your students? Is this a policy of your school? What is the rationale behind this?
By the way, I loved your onion trick, but how did the students take it?

Ian said...

Well, okay, let me see if I can clarify this. First off, technically I may post student photos, provided I first check the "do-not-publish" list - which I don't have time to do. There are plenty of teachers who don't bother to. I personally don't want to get into legal trouble for publishing a student's photo or name when I shouldn't have.

Secondly, though, there's a question of privacy. Images of others are actually their property, unless I have a contract specifying otherwise. Without a contract signed by the students' parents/guardians, I don't actually have permission to publish their images in a forum beyond the school community. That is, I can put the photos on an internal school web server, or an inside classroom wall, but I may not publish them in a newsletter that might be seen by someone outside the school, let alone on a publically-accessible web site such as this.

Actually the situation is a little more complex; some uses of others' images, probably including (although it's a murky legal area) on a personal blog, are technically permitted without their explicit permission. Nevertheless I have chosen not to make a decision affecting my students' (and their families') privacy for them.

Ian said...

Oh, and the onion: about as you'd expect. They were disappointed, but there wasn't anything they could do about it, since the teachers were running the show. ;-)

deskbound said...

That's interesting. I can see that there are ethical issues surrounding publishing photos of people,especially minors without their position, and that as a responsible teacher in this day and age you would have to be especially careful, but I didn't know that it was illegal per se. I would have thought that this sort of thing, (ie people having their photo's published without having given consent or even knowing about it) happens everyday in the various forms of media. I would have assumed that the photographic subject would have no means of recourse unless their portrayal was somehow defamatory. I'm sure you are right to err on the side of caution!
My wife photographed her new students this week, and had them hold up name cards, so that they look like they are having their mugshots recorded in a police station! I sort of felt that was a bit demeaning, but then, I also insisted on her bringing prints of these photo's home this year so that I can put a face to the names in all the stories she will tell me as the year progresses...
Anyway, about the onion - did they see the funny, philosophical side, or did they think you were just being mean?

Ian said...

The onion: Yes, all in the spirit of fun. Especially since we gave them a proper meal afterwards anyway!

Photos: Yes it happens everyday, and yes most of the time it is perfectly legal. For the finer details, you can read e.g. (warning: long article). In my case, the only time it would be a legal issue is if I published an identifiable image or name of a student on the school's do-not-publish list (because the school has promised the parents/guardians not to) — and even then, it's a civil issue, not illegal per se. However, the ethical issues are somewhat more complex.

I also took mug shots of my house family students, just like your wife did. I made them write their own name tags and hold them up for me. It worked, too; I learnt their names quite quickly.