Three Inspiring Comics from Zen Pencils to Get Students Thinking Big

I’m a comic book geek, nerd, aficionado, reader, hoarder, what have you.  Yes, I like superhero and tights and truth and justice.  I can identify most every visual reference The Big Bang Theory offers and I salivated at the display cases in The 40 Year Old Virigin.

But that’s not all there is to comics.  There’s loads and loads and loads of comics.

And Zen Pencils provides perfect examples of what a comic can do.

Think about showing your students any of these comics by Zen Pencils founder and artist, Gavin Aung Than.  There are piles more where these came from — I just happened to get the, “Oh, oh, Humanities needs to read this and . . . oh . . . oh that would be great for my AP kids . . . and the pilot . . . oh in Doug’s science lab! Yes” vibe from these three.

The first identifies art as the ultimate answer to every crisis, courtesy the wisdom of Neil Gaiman, author of Prinz award-winning The Graveyard Book, American Gods and Eisner Award-winning Sandman graphic novel series.  And he’s British. And awesome.

What would happen if you stopped class short — no matter the content area — and had student immediately make good art based on the concepts at hand.  Having difficulty with students understanding the Bill of Rights? Make good art.  Having trouble getting students to set up quadratic formulas properly?  Make good art.  Having issues with identifying and analyzing a poet’s tone?  Make good art.  Having apprehensions about making  a difference in the world?  Make good art.

What if student organizations focused on art as a means toward achieving their goals — both in action and in fundraising?  What if art auctions and student-created posters replaced the bake sales and inspirational wrist-bands?

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomer blog is just plain good stuff.  It’s one of the most pure examples of why the Internet is important and valuable.  He can get most anyone who spends any time there intrigued, enraptured, enlivened by science.   Here’s why.

Plait helps us see what science is and what it affords us.  What if students wrote dystopian short stories or poetry, perhaps make short films, that show what would happen if science education were removed, outlawed from schools?  Or another content area?  What if students conducted intense investigations into how, when and where their math learning will be useful to life beyond the walls of academia? Or their foreign language learning?  Or welding learning?

Audrey Hepburn was gorgeous and funny, a magnet upon any screen.  This lone panel speaks volumes.

And really, need we say more?

About Dan Ryder

Dan Ryder & Jeff Bailey, co-founders of Wicked Decent Learning, a blog, podcast, Twitter feed and who-knows-what-all-else devoted to teaching and learning in Vacationland and beyond. Teachers, dads, actors, writers, geeks, buds.

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