Thursday, February 14, 2013

Comicbooks in classrooms

Watching the BBC Breakfast this morning and discussions on P.E. (which is a whole other topic) and while discussing the issue of untrained teachers and improper equipment someone stated that they "wouldn't have comics to teach literacy" and I thought "Why not?".

Of course if someone still thinks of comic books as being of the Beano and Dandy aspects then it would seem odd (though a case could be made even for them), but look to the more modern outputs and this doesn't seem a crazy idea.

There's some physics discussions going on in them; what laws need to be broken to allow the superheroes to function? Go down specific story routes and even more subjects appear.

Take DC's "Crisis on Multiple Earths" series. There's some high-level physics discussions going on in that not just the obvious concept of multiple earths.  History gets a look-in coupled with sociology - look at the differences between the multiple earths at what point in history did they split? Why is the 'golden age' earth different to the 'silver age' earth? How do these two reflect the periods they were conceived during? Tie that to UK's 200AD and particularly Judge Dredd - how did we in the UK end up with a fascist police state while the US headed into idealism? How did the Comics Code affect things such as self-censorship?

Why don't the superheroes ever take over? Examples in Superman - Red Son; Stormwatch and The Authority and The Boys. How did the superhero genre displace the horror and western that were originally prevalent in the US? Did printed comics affect the newspaper strip comics; how are they related?

Run through Marvel's Civil War and compare to reality. Why do the super-powered take to masks and costumes rather than sign up for law-enforcement? Are the arguments for (and against) registration valid how does this connect to both factual and fictional history regarding racism, and genocide?

Compare to books that require visual description, compare to films that can use tone of voice to convey meaning; different aspects of pacing and focus.

Oh and yes literacy too - minimum amount of words maximum amount of information and understanding; pretty much an ideal tool for comprehension. There's a reason we teach people to read using picture books.

I'm missing out the big point too - they're likely to be something the children will want to read; difficult to beat that.