Image Searching Embarrassment

Ooops.! After years of diligence, care and attention to surfing for pictures in front of pupils, I finally let my guard slip and suffered a case of ‘Ooops’!

The Y5/6 class and I were discussing what makes a good picture, as opposed to a ‘snap’ and had gone to Flickr to seek out some examples. I’d searched for Landscapes and we’d had a thoughtful and reflective few minutes looking at and discussing why we liked certain images.

We’d discussed other topics for the pupils to search for as their preferred theme and, naturally, sport came up. I’d told them that we weren’t looking for pictures of Gerrard, Terry, etc, unless they were something other than portraits and to illustrate the point, showed them the Sir Tom Finney ‘Splash’ photo.

So, whilst on this tide of engagement and enthusiasm, we searched Flickr for ‘sport’ and up came a few dozen pictures of cyclists. At this point, I ought to have searched for any other sport, but instead scrolled down the list. I’d expected baseball, cricket, golf, NFL, NBA, etc. I was, however, totally unprepared and taken aback by the appearance of swim-suited females that arrived from the foot of the screen.

Hastily reversing the scroll we returned to the cyclists. I couldn’t pretend it hadn’t happened and most of the pupils were just as confused as I was. As I was thinking frantically about a way out of this slightly awkward situation, one was offered by a question from one of the pupils. “Why were those pictures found when you looked for sport”? Phew. Escape. So, I told them about the annual sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and how someone had obviously uploaded the pictures to Flickr and tagged them as sport.

We then had a quick discussion about how this could lead to embarrassment and how easy it is to stumble onto things that you weren’t expecting and what to do if you found more disturbing pictures.

At the end of the lesson, I congratulated the pupils on their maturity in dealing with the situation and silently thanked a deity that nothing worse had cropped up. (I recall an ex-colleague freezing when seeking images of Queen Victoria’s husband). However, this did serve as a salutary reminder, that no matter how many times you do this and how safe you think you are, it pays to be ever cautious.

So, next time I think I’ll remember my own advice and use the NEN Gallery.


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