Why Comics? Bringing important global issues into the classroom

20 October 2017

Born Julius and Julia

Grace Benati, Research and Communications Officer at Positive Negatives introduces Why Comics? and explains how it can encourage pupils to engage with and reflect on global issues.

Why Comics?  education charity brings contemporary humanitarian and social issues into the classroom in the form of literary comics based on real-life testimonies. Our new website has been officially launched, along with our free KS2-5 interactive comic books and national-curriculum lesson plans for multiple subjects. Our work is based on real-life testimony that builds empathy and enhances learning for 7-18 year-old students and teachers alike.

Ever wonder how you can encourage your pupils to engage with and reflect on vital global themes? At Why Comics?, we want to encourage and promote critical and reflective thinking about topics (such as racism, migration, climate change, conflict, bullying and trafficking), whilst also encouraging students to make connections between their lives and the lives of others throughout the world.

Our comics and teaching resources are carefully designed to have a powerful impact and are all based on real stories. No matter your ethnicity, age, gender or literary levels, people can understand and empathise with these human stories.

You can work with our easy-to-use national-curriculum relevant lesson plans with your pupils in a multitude of subjects, such as English, Art, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, Citizenship Studies, History, I.T. and Geography. Our educational resources are embedded with age-appropriate maps, videos, and news articles, so that’s students can understand bigger issues behind the individual stories.

“Looking at Merha’s story in class suddenly made it ok for me to talk about my family’s similar experience, suddenly it’s like the other kids understand me and know where I’m coming from”.

Pupil, aged 16 from a State-Secondary College, Birmingham, UK.

As the world becomes more divided and levels of inequality increase, the need for this material will become ever more crucial. These vital human stories are missing in schools, and Why Comics? can take them there.

Why (use) Comics?

A Perilous Journey – Hasko Artist: Lindsay Pollock Funded by: Norweigian People’s Aid Produced by: PositiveNegatives
A Perilous Journey – Hasko

Young people are increasingly interacting with short blocks of text intermingled with visuals. By using the powerful comic medium in an interactive way, we can personally engage pupils with important social issues. Quantitative and Qualitative research shows that not only do pupils enjoy topics when they are presented as comics, the gravitas of the complex issues they discuss are not undermined.

Why Comics? interactive comics act as a ‘hook’ to get students engaged, leading them to fully interact with the wealth of contextual material that has been provided alongside each comic. As the reader builds empathy with the characters in the comic, they will understand the issues on a personal level, aiding deeper and more meaningful comprehension.

 So far?

To date, we have received detailed positive feedback from over 650 schools in 27 countries on our free interactive educational resources. Our materials are currently disseminated to over 27,000 teachers worldwide.

Who backs Why Comics?

Since 2012 the award-winning non-profit Positive Negatives has been producing literary comics and animations about contemporary humanitarian and social issues. It combines ethnographic research with illustration and photography, adapting personal testimonies into art, advocacy and education materials. All content is then donated to the charity for dissemination in schools worldwide.

For more information, visit whycomics.org or contact  info@whycomics.org

By Grace Benati, Communications and Research Officer at Positive Negativesinfo@positivenegatives.org

Top image: Born Julius and Julia, Artist: Gabi Froden, Commissioned by: Open Society Foundation,Produced by: PositiveNegatives

Middle image: A Perilous Journey – Hasko, Artist: Lindsay Pollock, Funded by: Norweigian People’s AidProduced by: PositiveNegatives

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