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Thursday, August 07, 2003

Jay Hosler, an assistant professor of biology at Juniata College, has long been using comic books as a valuable resource in teaching scientific principles. His second series, "The Sandwalk Adventures" has been compiled into one volume that explores evolution and natural selection through the mind of Mara, a follicle mite living in the eyebrow of Charles Darwin. Even Michael R. Lavin, an associate librarian for the University at Buffalo Libraries, has Hosler's work among his recommended comic books on a reference Web site for librarians.
Hosler is far from the first to try to use comic books as educational tools. For nearly as long as comics have been around, there have been those who have recognized their value as instructional reading.

Will Eisner, a legend in comic illustration, penned the "Joe Dope" series to teach jeep maintenance to World War II soldiers; a series issued by the Federal Reserve taught thousands of children the principles of banking and finance; and illustrated Bible stories, many in comic book form, are a staple at most Christian bookstores.

Betty Watson, director of early childhood education at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., said the illustrations in comic books might help to engage youngsters who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in science.

But Lavin says educators would be remiss to think of comic books as tools only for reaching disinterested students. He says comics can help to stimulate even the most gifted students.

"There's a lot of us in the field that feel very strongly that this is a tremendous medium and an exciting medium to engage people at the other end of the spectrum, because it really sparks their creativity," Lavin said.

"There's no question that the combination of words and pictures can be a very exciting way to tell a story that leaves a lasting impression."

Finally, people are starting to recognize the legitimacy of comics as a valuable tool in learning. Given the right materials, I guess it would only be a matter of time before it would be recognized here in our country too.

The whole article can be read here.

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