...it takes a school to nurture in them an appreciation for visual narrative.
Some K-12 educators that I meet on the conference circuit express concern about the lack of support they receive from their fellow colleagues, department heads, or school administrators when it comes to using comics and graphic novels in the classroom. This always dismays me a little bit because I know how important it is to have colleagues and administrators who are encouraging and even enthusiastic about what you're trying to do.
Before you start teaching visual narrative in the classroom then, it's important to have discussions with all the stakeholders at your school about how the institution does or does not celebrate the visual. I've walked into lots of high schools where the hallways are devoid of student creativity and expression, but I almost never walk into a kindergarten classroom without being blown away by how much wonderful, crazy stuff is on the walls.
You'll notice that there's no shortage of the visual in the images that follow. I teach at a school that celebrates student creativity in a way that never fails to impress a comics person like myself. Here are some images that I shared at a recent conference, where I talked about the importance of making visual storytelling and artistic expression a living, breathing part of school culture.
You see, it takes a school...
This is what you need to have at your school in order to create the lasting conditions for a successful appreciation, understanding, and love for the visual! It hardly makes sense to talk to your students about the importance of studying comics and graphic novels, and then have them walk out into a hallway in which there is nothing to look at.
I'd love to know what you think about this, and please don't forget to take a moment and answer our poll question!
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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