We have been exploring the concept of an image at school lately. (As you may, or may not, know Steiner education has a lot to do with imagination and teaching through pictures.) Trevor asked us to resist the urge to groan while he unveiled the question he wanted us to think about.

“What are the essential ingredients of a picture?”

It takes a good teacher to know what you will want to do before you want to do it. I was impressed, and I did my best not to groan to honestly it was rather hard. It was made easier from the fact that he was groaning himself. A good sense of humour is also rather essential, don’t you think?

Neither not groaning nor laughing made the question any easier to answer, however. I spent some very frustrating twenty minutes trying to come up with some way of approaching something that looked like an answer. Did I say it wasn’t easy? A picture is such a basic thing you can’t quite define it. Can you define a thought? Can you define a thought without thinking? Can you define a picture without using a picture? Doesn’t that half-defeat the point?

In the end me and the girl I was discussing it with ended up with this: A picture is something you can perceive, something that you can retain in your memory, something that you can pass along, something that appeals to feelings rather than the intellect, and, finally, something that has a life of its own. It was pretty good even if I say so myself. Other people seemed to have approached it from a different perspective so in the end we ended up with a very interesting list of words.

Sometimes lessons make me want to cry, like songs do.