Wandering through the internet, I came across Comics in Education. I am captivated.
The site focuses on K-12, but the insights are foundational. The diagrams of literature–Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy and Margaret Atwood’s writings–echo assignments from one of my old old profs with an Oxford pedigree. The apologetics attached to using comics in a a classroom will hopefully fall away, freeing up time to focus on theory, implementation, and innovation. Right now, though, the defenses, justifications are essential.
I share the frustration with consumerism creeping into higher ed–seeing students as customers, equating academic success with passing, measuring learning with concrete measurable outcomes, and defining engagement as classroom involvement.
Education is not a product.
Degrees may be in the process of becoming a good, stored, sold, and distributed in bulk by the academic equivalents of Costco, Sams, and Amazon. But education is much more elusive. Terry Eagleton’s recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education carefully and eloquently details the commercialization of higher ed–of course it is convincing, thoughtful, beautifully written. It is Eagleton. And I agree with him. But remember, Eagleton is the one who also provides a clear explanation of the growth of modern language studies. He understands the evolution of the academy.
Comics in Education is not extolling a marketing technique, a trick to gain and retain customers. It is a thoughtful attempt to approach ideas from a new direction. It is asking how we know, how what we know is shaped by the way we look. The site is about knowledge and understanding.
Pop culture can be and is used to capture students. To attract customers. To sell classes. Do not throw out babies with bathwater, though. Do not let the abuse poison the well. (Keep on with the cliches.) The commercialization of the field, does not diminish what that field has to offer. If you have any doubts about that, read Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction.
But also take the time to surf Comics in Education and gain some insights.