Kurt Hahn

Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School — “The Other”

The project The Other was designed by an English teacher, Jes Kruse, who believes that the level of student engagement and relevance in a curriculum has a significant impact on a student’s academic progress. English Language Learners from the Kurt Hahn School chose an individual in their community that is seen as “the other”. Students interviewed and captured the essence of their subject through feature writing and photography.

These students, who have all immigrated to New York from all around the world, spent the 2012-2013 school year reading, writing, listening, and speaking about how societies name and treats “others”. “The other” is defined as someone in our society that is often overlooked and therefore treated unfairly. This project took students out of the classroom as they explored human rights, cultures, and the power of art to make a difference. The guiding questions for this study were:

  1. How should society identify and treat the “other”?
  2. What can we learn about society and history from personal stories?

The Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School is a public high school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The school arms students with the knowledge, skills and character necessary to serve as informed, thoughtful and courageous civic leaders in their own communities and beyond. The Kurt Hahn School emphasizes in-depth study of compelling topics, which develop students’ abilities to creatively solve problems and think critically.

Each student proceeded to interview and capture the essence of their subject through research writing and photography. Through regular photography workshops organized for the students by United Photo Industries, students were instructed in using digital cameras to create powerful portraits. The workshops covered the history of photographic portraiture, and discussed well-known examples, identifying the photographers’ underlying choices. Students learned to work with available light, and to incorporate environmental elements in their photographs.

At the conclusion of the project, each student presented an image and a written oral history report of his or her interviewee in an exhibition at the United Photo Industries Gallery. It is the students’ hopes that the work they had on display at UPI brought awareness to their community about the unfair treatment of the other.