Thursday, July 2, 2009

Teachers Talking Comics

Today I visited the 2009 Maine Writing Project at the University of Maine in Orono. The MWP is an affiliate of the National Writing Project. MWP is dedicated to the improvement of teaching and learning across the curriculum at all grade levels.

I was invited by friends and colleagues to speak about professional development presentations and their natural progressions. I talked for an hour about my graduate studies involving comics and how that led me to hosting academic workshops and starting my beloved blog.

I couldn't ask for a better group to present to than the thirteen teachers who were present for this workshop. These folks give me hope for not only the future of our medium (as a teaching tool), but also for the future generations who will be lucky to have these progressive educators as teachers.

During the demo a few questions arose which I thought I would pass on to you, O' Kindly Reader(s). Let me know what you think by posting a response below...

QUESTION #1- Do you think comics have a place in canonical literature? If "yes," what would that place be?

QUESTION #2- Is there a particular type of student who would benefit more from graphic novels than traditional text?

QUESTION #3- Should teachers focus on building a library of graphic novel adaptations (of classical work)? Should they attain original-to-the-medium material? Or should there be a marriage of both on the classroom bookshelf?

-I know my answers. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Ian -

    First, what a cool site. You're my comic hero.

    Do comics have a place in the CANON? Of course they do! I mean, how can you teach a Holocaust unit anymore without including Maus?! Persepolis works on many levels, too, and I've heard from some of my AP Lit and Comp colleagues that they use it in their AP classes (mostly after the exam, but it's a start!). I've been initiating a history teacher friend into the joys of graphic literature and she plans to add several of them to her reading list in world history. So yes, they belong in the canon.

    Question 2: I think graphic novels are great for everyone, but let's not kid ourselves. Kids who struggle with reading will still struggle with graphic novels. I think kids need to be taught the LITERACY of the graphic form, because it's not easy. I notice that I use different strategies when reading graphic novels than I do with picture-free text, but that's really no different from the way we adjust from beach reading to that physics textbook!

    Question 3: I don't know the answer to this one; I know we discussed this a bit together last week, and I have to say that if teachers aren't really teaching the form on its own, then I wonder if the "Illustrated Classics" approach to Shakespeare is just one more SparkNotes tool.

    Yikes - so much writing, so little substance. Anyway, great post, Ian!