I did a little poking around this morning on the topic of comics as a teaching tool in the classroom. I did this primarily because of the sites that I have been looking at lately that have students creating their own comics. It turns out that there has been a considerable amount of time and money spent on researching comics in the classroom. The best article I found in my brief research was on the web site Comics in Education by Gene Yang which is the result of his Master’s project.
What I find funny about this whole thing is that we are now in the year 2010 and the research on this topic was seriously started in the 1940’s. People were worried that comic books were going to be the downfall of society as it was currently known. This sounds a lot like thoughts in the recent past on T.V., computers, personal music devices,etc. The truth, according to the research, is that comics are an excellent resource for the classroom.
I really like this quote from W. Sones on Yang’s website:
“The potency of the picture story is not a matter of modern theory but of anciently established truth. Before man thought in words, he felt in pictures… It’s too bad for us “literary” enthusiasts, but it’s the truth nevertheless, pictures tell any story more effectively than words.” W. Sones (1944)
Those drawings that have been found painted in caves and on the walls of cliffs around the world were the first comics. They were stories told with pictures. They were the first means of communication beyond sounds. They were the first literature. We can read them today and still understand, to some extent, what message the ancient authors were trying to convey.
Using comics as a tool in education just makes sense. Who does not enjoy reading a comic? I think that some of the problem comes in seeing comics as a childish way to read. People who read well don’t need any pictures because they “see” the pictures in their heads. Isn’t that what we have been told (and probably taught)? The research definitely says otherwise.
To learn more about why all teachers should consider comics in the classroom, take the time to read through the rest of Yang’s site. Another interesting research source is Comics: A multi-dimensional teaching aid in integrated skills classes.
The bottom line is that teachers need to take comics to the classroom.