A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bloomberg News Article on Graphic Novels and Education

Bloomberg News just (8.28.07) published an article on comics/graphic novels and vocabulary, discussing Kaplan's SAT prep graphic novels in light of the recent news that SAT scores are down. It is a good article, and I'm quoted in it, but there are a few statements that might need some clarification.

What the article does well is examine the financial aspects of graphic novels publishing, and it reveals why companies like Kaplan and Scholastic might see the format as a viable economic investment. It is always nice when concepts of capitalism and better education for all (a free market ideal???) work together. It also mentions the important role that librarians have taken in advocating for adolescents' literary interests and thereby advocating their literacy development. I'm not sure about the Library-GN-NCLB connection that is made, though.

As for other elements of the story:

1. The article says comics were once considered "trash literature." Though this is largley true, and I can think of many who probably still hold this point if view, it gets a little tedious for me to keep reading this sort of thing in a news article. Not to blame anyone here, but maybe one day sequential art will be so accepted in education that no one even considers the word "trash" when thinking about it.

2. "Literary skills" vs. "Literacy skills." I'm quoted as saying the "literary demands" are greater for students now than they were. I wonder if this is a slip of my tongue or a misedit. I usually say "literacy demands" or "literacy skills." It's a rather small change to some; a big one to me. I recently had an academic essay edited such that "literacy" was changed to "literary" and it really bothered me. This usually happens when someone outside of the field of English Education or Literacy sees the word. The one good thing, though? If we accept a new or expanded definition of literacy, we are most probably also expanding a definition of literary. So, though this little "c" vs "r" thing is becoming a pet peeve of mine, it might not be such a bad little mistake. It actually politically charges the word "literary" in ways that really appeal to me.

3. The article states, "Because students spend so much time with television, video games and comics, teachers should use visuals to win attention, Carter says. He edited Building Literacy Connections With Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel By Panels, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, in Urbana, Illinois." -- This is somewhat of a simplified summary of our interview. Though I certainly mentioned that using visuals can help grab the attention of students who might otherwise be hesitant to read or be interested in other texts, I sort of feel like this reduction of my overall statement reduces the use of sequential art to a gimmick. That's certainly not what I want it to be used as. I want it seen as a viable format from which teachers and students can sharpen multiple literacy (and sure, literary) skills.

4. The article also mentions that many graphic novels are under $10. This reminds me of a situation in which a peer summarized a comic strip he had read. "What's the difference in a comic and a graphic novel?" one character asks. "About $15," another responds. The Manga she refers to are indeed often under $10, but GN's considered more literary (yes, the "r" is intentionally used there), and even many of the super-hero trade paperback GN's, often run more along the $15-20 range.

But, overall, a solid article from Bloomberg. Please do listen to the radio interview that accompanies the link. I'm able to get much more involved in my statements and you can also compare how the print article summarizes/condenses and how the streaming audio portrays much of the same information in a different manner. By doing so, you're helping hone your critical, multimodal literacy skills as well! :)

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