Screen Education

Writing with Sound and Vision THE AUDIOVISUAL ESSAY IN THE CLASSROOM

In this era of constant, relentless testing and assessment of students, it seems as if there is less free space in the classroom for curiosity and discovery. Attainment standards and benchmarking constantly shape the terrain we work within, while the strictures of the marketplace, such as targets and deliverables, have resulted in the slow rationalisation of pedagogy. National curricula in the school system and learning outcomes at tertiary level are clearly necessary, but an overemphasis on results has built new, ‘datafied’ walls in front of imaginative learning and teaching. As teachers and educationalists, we feel it is our responsibility to lay siege to these walls, since they constrain what and how we teach – and what is more, they seem to be restricting how our students think and create.

For screen educators, problems with pedagogical authenticity are exacerbated, since the perceived value of studying our subjects is under constant attack – even as calls for the stepping up of media literacy in our classrooms resound daily. Perhaps it is time, then, to work from inside the walls, in the resistant and resisting classroom: with and for rather than against our students. While it can’t possibly solve all these learning issues, in this article we consider how teaching with the audiovisual essay can be one authentic strategy employed to free our students’ thinking and to activate their creative impulses. We see the audiovisual essay as a form of learning, daring and knowledge generation that is not just ‘another brick in the wall’.

Setting the scene

As both a form of creative-practice research for scholars and a learning tool for students, the audiovisual essay – the origins of which, it has been suggested, can be traced as far back as the experimental work of Nicole Védrès in 1947, if not further – has developed exponentially in the last five years. Since the establishment in 2014 of , a scholarly journal devoted to ‘videographic film and moving image studies’, an increasing number of academics have used the audiovisual essay as a new means of presenting their research. However, contributions to the journal from scholars from Australia and New Zealand We thought, nonetheless, that a great deal more work was likely to be happening in the Australasian audiovisual-essay space but without a forum to discover it.

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