My learning journey to Maus

I love the learning journeys that I go on using the internet. I have taken upon myself the task of continuing my lifetime’s education by tapping into the power of the almost limitless store of knowledge that is now available to me online.

So this morning’s journey started with looking at Twitter for some interesting  links. I didn’t really find any so I looked at my next source of information and useful links, Facebook.

I belong to a number of groups on Facebook one of which is Edutopia. I therefore receive updates about the latest developments in their website. Today I read the following:

Edutopia Last week, Joan Weber of Creativity & Associates hosted a chat with Sir Ken Robinson on Twitter. (Sir Ken has wondered aloud if “schools kill creativity” and has written myriad book on the subject.) This is a summary of that wonderfully inspirational chat. Join us for future #artsed chats on Twitter, Thursdays 7PM ET/4PM PT.

http://www.edutopia.orgEditor’s Note: This week’s guest blogger is Joan Weber, the facilitator for Edutopia’s Arts/Music/Drama group and moderator of the weekly #artsed chat on Twitter.

This led me to look up the blog entry by Joan on the web-chat with Sir Ken Robinson which was very interesting (as usual with Sir Ken).

I noticed other links to the right of the screen that had the blog entry in it that was about popular videos on the Edutopia site:

Most Popular Videos

Related

I remembered that, a few months ago I had come across the third entry “My Life in Comics”  I remember that I promised myself on reading this the first time that I would try and do a blog entry on Gene Yang and his fascinating story as a cartoonist, a mathematics teacher and as a Chinese American.

On the third line down in the article there is a link to gene’s website http://www.geneyang.com/comicsedu/
I followed the link and went onto the website where Gene has a number of articles about the history and use of comics in education. I had already seen the power of the comic as a teaching tool by following Gene’s link to his cartoons teaching algebra. I now proceeded to read the entries on comics and their use in education and must admit that I was entranced.
I had always loved comics as a child. My brothers and myself would read the British Dandy, Beano, and Beezer comics regularly and loved Desperate Dan and his “cow pie” as well as Dennis the Menace and of  course the “Bash Street Kids” and their long suffering teacher with his ridiculous mortar board hat and gown!
We were also in that generation after the Second World War that began to import the American comics so we knew all about Superman, Spiderman, Batman  and even Superdog!
I had never really reflected on the learning that this “multimedia” form of text and pictures allowed me to do….. but Gene made me think about this as I read about the history of  comics in education and how they had a zenith in American schools by 1944 but were attacked after the war as somehow the creator of vandalism and all things evil in society and how they made a comeback in the early 1970’s and are now looked upon as the precursor to the multimedia approach to learning that we have moved into in the 21st century.
In recalling the history of the artform Gene mentioned a powerful graphic novel called “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. This is a two part work which basically recalls the story of the holocaust in terms of Spiegelman’s own father’s story. The characters though in the book are not human but animals… the Jews are portrayed as mice and the Germans as cats… the French are snails.
I have to admit that I had never heard of this work before… so I therefore followed my learning journey by looking it up on Google. I was able to find a number of videos about the book. I watched one which was a review by an American just speaking to the camera… it was very moving as he showed pictures from the book and said that this was not a comic but a great work of art that told a story in a very powerful way (maybe stronger than words alone?)
I found a three part video which was an interview that Spiegelman gave on Irish radio. It was fascinating. I got to know a lot about him as a person, about the fact that he had been born in Sweden where he lived for two years whilst his displaced parents (both survivors of the Nazi deathcamps) waited to go to America. I learnt about his love for New York, his French wife and his deep doubts about the U.S. of A.
I spent maybe two hours on this journey and as you may be able to see here, I learnt so much. I was free to navigate my way across the pathways and connections that is the internet. I will now be ordering and reading “Maus”… no doubt there will be a fuller review after I have read it. I learnt about Gene Yang and what it felt like to be a Chinese American, of facing prejudice, of loving art as well as mathematics. I found out about collaborative learning in an Alaskan elementary school and that there was a part of Twitter  called #artsed that has regular discussions about the arts and education which I am very interested in.
If  I, at 57 years of age and wandering towards the end of quite a long teaching career, can learn so much in such a short time then I feel that case for the the opportunities that the internet provides for the developing minds of our youngsters  is proven. We must allow them the freedom to range and the time to do so… we must allow openness in enquiry and we will no doubt be amazed at what they will produce for us. We must continue to put forward the case for good Project Based Learning as Edutopia always has which is why I follow them and why my learning journey today took place.
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