Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Comic Learning

The ToI today ran an article titled Comic Relief in History Classes for Mumbai School. A very nice article, and it displays a unique way of learning. When I was thinking of a title for this post, I was choosing between Comic Learning, and Comic Teaching, and I think the apt title was learning. As you can see from the article, this is more of a pull, rather than a push. Traditional teaching has been kind of a broadcast mode, with the teacher broadcasting thoughts to the students, and stopping to take feedback from time to time. And that has not been very interesting. There are not many dates I remember from my History class, except for 1526 (for some reason, I remember the year for the Second Battle of Panipat), and of course, 1857, and the dates related to the Freedom Struggle.

In fact, comics seem to be coming back in a new and reinvented form, as can be seen from the comic about the Ramayana. This just goes to show that the art of telling stories has not died out, and that even today, stories appeal to people, whether children, or elders. Coming from a generation when tv was a novelty, and the staple fare was Amar Chitra Katha, and Phantom and Mandrake were the norm, I think comics are a very powerful way of teaching. And this experiment in teaching History with comics, and the reaction of children to this is indeed heartening.

If we were to say that we are, at a level, grown up children, the fact is, comics, and what they stand for, a story in a non-threatening environment, in an environment which is comfortable, promote learning. This would imply that the art of storytelling can play a major role in the learning process, and there are tools which can add to the richness of the story, and enhance the learning experience.


Prasenjit said...

Yes, this a very interesting issue.Bachhi Karakaria also contributed a "middle" on this in the Sunday Times.
Henry Ford's comment was History is Bunk, the way it is taught.Unfortunately the second part is not quoted , when we redicule the tycoon.
The perception or capability of retaining some thing in the brain is quite subjective .Some having good memory on verbals or by reading the texts loud,some have visual memory of retaining with pictorial accuracy and some grasp the conceptual matters to be retained for ever.I see all of us remember verbatim Newton's third law of Motion, because here both the verbal and conceptual memory help.
Now about Amar Chtra Katha as long as the presentations and the language are sober and appropriate I see there is no harm.The student is helped by both textual and visuals.We may consider only on the quality and content of the material rather than comic or the text which usually composed of bland & bombastic Indian English.

Atul said...

Actually, I believe there is greater reach in the regional languages, and this is also far simpler to do. This would mean that more students read simplified concepts through a more interactive and pleasant medium. This could be provided by the Internet, or by comics (cost being a factor here).