Sunday, January 13, 2008

Comics can be used to Teach

I just got back from a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The topic of the conference was the use of comics and graphic novels in education. This was held in conjunction with an exhibit on display there right now on the art of the graphic novel. There were original artwork pages by Steve Ditko, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, and many others.

I was invited to present on the topic of how comics can be used to teach on the elementary level, but during the rest of the day, I learned quite a lot myself.

Our keynote speaker was Jay Hosler. Jay is not just a cartoonist, but a biologist and professor at Juniata College. He has created his own educational comics Clan Apis, a comic about bees and The Sandwalk Adventures, a story about two follicle mites that live in Charles eyebrow. Both of these books are hilarious, while at the same time making scientific concepts easy to understand.

"My hope is that comic stories will present science in an engaging fashion and provide students with a context that will help them retain the material," says the artist and biologist.

Jay stressed the immediacy of images and how they immediately communicate concepts. My favorite quote of the day was, "Pictures are like intellectual crack -- right to your brain!"

"Some people ask if this is pandering," he shrugged. "Hey, if it would help students understand scientific concepts, I would tap dance!"

Visit his website to see a lot more about this extremely intelligent and very talented cartoonist/scientist.

1 comment:

Chris Schweizer said...

Wow! I wish I had been to this conference (not that I could've made it, this time of the year).... it sounds amazing. I'm so impressed with everything that you've been doing with this, Andy, both in and out of the classroom.

I'm hoping to get involved with this sort of thing via local libraries/educators conferences - please keep me abreast of anything you find/do that could help bring comics into more classrooms!