by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
Over the course of the next few months, I'll be sharing a number of graphic novels that I consider must-reads for those educators wanting to give serious treatment to the genre in the contemporary classroom. These works may not always be at the top of everyone's reading list, but each will have the capacity to make a very real impact on teaching and learning in the 21st-century classroom.
Of the books I read in 2013, this one had the most to say to teachers.
Though written a few years ago now, the English translation was published this past year, and we should be nothing short of thankful for it. In this critically-acclaimed work, Davodeau recalls the experience of learning the craft of wine making in the Loire Valley from vintner, Richard Leroy. At the same time, Davodeau gets Leroy to learn the art of writing, drawing, and publishing graphic novels. The story is brilliantly told, and from it we come away with a genuine understanding of how much people from different backgrounds and occupations can learn from one another by seeing what is actually involved in what they do.
I would strongly encourage teachers to read this graphic novel. It strikes me that Davodeau and Leroy engage in precisely the kind of authentic learning we want for our students. For instance, it's one thing to know that winemakers use barrels and that barrels are made by coopers. It's another thing to watch as Leroy pays a visit to the cooper's and hangs out there all day making sure the barrels are made just so while Davodeau looks on nonplussed. Indeed, both men learn from one another how passionate they are about their respective professions and how this is a fundamental quality they both share.
Talking with students about this graphic novel and sharing it with them is important, I think, in preparing them to be initiates for the world of lived experience.
For more information on The Initiates, have a look at the following links:
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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