Comics and education

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Another article that caught my eye and that I’d like to come back to:

ABSTRACT: “Comics and education is usually synonymous with low literacy levels, reluctant readers and a predominantly male audience. Through an ethnographic study of an extra-curricular Graphic Novel Reading Group set up in a secondary school, this paper questions such assumptions and discusses some of the complex issues around the place that comic book reading occupies amongst adolescent readers in educational institutions. It demonstrates the sophistication of their readings of comics through the value placed on form (Groensteen) but acknowledges that it is the marginal cultural position (Pustz) that comics still occupy in Britain which also constitutes much of their value for these teenage readers. The place of comic book reading in schools is thus problematized when one considers actual, as well as implied, readers.” (p.137)

In her conclusion, the author writes: “The logic of taking comics seriously as a medium, an art form even, would be to place them on the curriculum with other worthy texts. But this has its own problems: it would necessitate teaching pupils a whole new language with which to analyze this distinct medium, just as Groensteen has had to invent his own network of terminology. Then there is the problem presented by centralizing an activity whose value and power depends partly on its marginalization. The ‘geeks’ would lose their icon of marginality, other learners might feel, at best, perplexed. Despite these issues, I believe that the potential of comics in schools is enormous, but it is one that needs to be considered carefully, given that the act of reading comic books is so nuanced in our culture. The pupils I worked with saw themselves as part of a small group of people who valued what others de-valued; in doing so, they themselves felt valued because they were given an opportunity to express themselves intellectually and socially. The place of comic book reading in schools then, may be more complicated than is currently thought….” (p.147)

Ref: Shari Sabeti (2011): The irony of ‘cool club’: the place of comic book reading in schools, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 2:2, 137-149

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