Exercise: Recorded Conversations

I did something maybe a little unethical, but I have deleted it and didn’t let anyone else listen to it.  I recorded a conversation with a student regarding grades.

After recording it, I shared the gist of the conversation with my head of department because the student I recorded is a difficult one who wants the high grades but is not willing to do the work for it.

My account of both sides of the conversation

My side of it was that I had been teaching the exam content for 7 weeks and that asking me the day before the exam what the exam was about was not a good plan and explains why his grade was so low.

To my recollection, his side was simply not listening to anything I said but to keep asking me how he can get a higher mark on the next exam, or how many points he lost specifically.

Notes after listening

Honestly, because I have had conversations like this, I am pretty good at conveying what occurred since I usually need to report it to a parent or head of department.  Having said that, what I did notice were lots of awkward pauses from me after he would say something, but after I would say something he would quickly jump in and ask about how he could better or why he got such a low grade. One could say the pauses were a reaction of shock and so were his reactions.  We were both shocked but for different reasons.

Listening to it it was really clear to me that he was not understanding what I was telling him (that learning a language is an accumulative task, not something you can cram in the night before) as opposed to not listening to me as I had thought before. He also was clearly focused only on grades and short term and not really the long term effort that is required for the top marks.  Essentially he was asking me for the easy way to get the grades, and I simply wasn’t understanding him either.

In applying this to constructed photography, I think that you can never really capture something in its pure rawness.  There is always going to be a mis-reading or a different understanding.  Also, the way that words are said, the cadence of sentence structure, the eye contact (or not) or body language is also important and can be lost. Therefore it is nearly impossible to capture something real when it is constructed.  Having said that, something can very nearly be captured that feels real if the person constructing the photograph is empathetic to the subject matter.  I think automatically of Crewdson.  He does a fantastic job of re-creating scenes that actually don’t look real, but somehow convey real emotion.  His photographs really affect me even though they are completely fabricated and I have seen his behind-the-scenes set up.  It is almost like the plastic quality he adds to the images help to make it more realistic.  I am not sure how he does it, but he does it really well.


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