Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Shape of Text to Come: How Image & Text Work

Unfortunate placement can change everything! (Image T.Cairney)

Australian colleague Jon Callow has published an excellent book for teachers and teacher education students that considers the role that image plays in meaning making. He writes:

'Visual images are hard to ignore. They pervade our waking hours and sometimes our sleep. Even when we are focusing on a particular task, our eyes are taking in all sorts of visual cues, interpreting them, choosing to notice or ignore them. Even before the advent of paper, books and computer screens, the world for most people was a visual text.'

The book practices what it teaches by beautifully combining image and word to communicate its message. It opens with consideration of the way image and word work together, in fact, the way that the visual presentation of the word itself can change meaning. It then follows with an excellent chapter that offers a framework based on linguistic register (field, tenor & mode) for teachers to explore the multimodality of texts: What's happening? How do we interact and relate? How do design and layout build meaning?

A photo I took in Athens in 2000. There is intent in the photo & interplay of image & words

A photo I took in the UK
Chapter three considers how the visual is used to express actions, ideas, present characters and participants and show the circumstances. Chapter four considers how images can show feelings, attitudes, credibility and power. How does gaze to viewer change things in an image? How is authenticity and credibility communicated? Chapter five explores the use of visual resources and devices like design and layout for organising logical and cohesive texts. Finally, chapter six considers some practical principles for selecting texts and activities in the classroom.

Jon Callow and the publishers the Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA) have done a wonderful job with this book. Its message is timely, the design is beautiful supporting and contributing to the message, and it combines good theory and practice in a way that teachers will find accessible, challenging and practical. It's available from PETAA.


Emily said...

I had a quick squiz at the book at it looks so interesting! Unfortunately, as I am not teaching at the moment, my husband would have kittens if I spent any more money on teacher resources... I guess once a teacher, always a teacher! Sometimes I wish I could go back and do my degree again. I never appreciated how interesting the course readings were as a 'know-it-all, fresh from high school' teenager!

Trevor Cairney said...

Thanks for the comment Emily. It is a good book. There are some online resources that cover the topic as well, but it's a good book that does it very well.