On December 8, Jonathan Cassie received his Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Cassie’s dissertation research focused on “social mapping” a North Hollywood middle school through photography.
“Schools are like little towns,” he said. “They have certain cultures. They work a certain way.”
Cassie collaborated with eighth grade students from the middle school to gather visual data. In this self-study process the students photographed the campus and discussed in small groups the cultural implications of the images and the potential for improvement.
“Social mapping can help people figure out how to talk about the things that are hard to talk about or to name the things that are hard to name,” he said. “It’s the right solution to the right problem.”
He says the visualization of cultural patterns relative to a school’s physical campus is beneficial for understanding the school as a “lived environment.” Cassie says social maps and photographs can reveal social and emotional safety and danger zones as well as ethnic patterns on a school campus.
“Where students sometimes struggle with words, they don’t have a problem with images,” he said.
He says his interest in the arts – specifically school aesthetic and architecture as well as photography – led him to undertake this project.
Cassie is looking forward to his hooding ceremony at UCLA in June 2011.