Teaching with comic books

Ms. Marvel is a Pakistani American; Spider-Man, aka Miles Morales, is a Black Hispanic teen; and Faith is a plus-size crime fighter. 

Comic books and graphic novels can engage students in history and current events, says Tim Smyth, a Pennsylvania social studies teacher.

“Comics are a gateway drug to literacy,” said Art Spiegelman, creator of the graphic Maus books on his parents’ experiences as Polish Jews who survived Auschwitz. That inspired Smyth to think how he could teach social studies using comics.

His students can identify with “a female Thor (who is also fighting breast cancer), a black Captain America, a gay Iceman, a strong (and now fully dressed) Wonder Woman and Batgirl, a Korean-American Hulk” and more traditional characters, Smyth writes.

Spider-Woman’s storyline focuses on her pregnancy and whether she will need to abandon her superhero role. It brings up the point that male superheroes never have to struggle with the question — can I have a career and a family?

Recently, his class discussed the March issue of “Spider-Man” in which superhero Miles Morales says he doesn’t want to be “the black Spider-Man.” He just wants to be Spider-Man.

Adventures in STEM, 1953

How do you get kids motivated to study math and science?  These days, it’s video games, but in 1953, General Electric published comic books about science “adventures” to lure young people into technical fields, reports the Washington Post‘s [email protected] blog.

Adults feared “comic books were producing a crop of juvenile delinquents,” General Electric Review wrote in September 1953. But GE went ahead with titles such as Adventures in Jet Power, Adventures Inside the Atom and Land of Plenty: A Story of Freedom and Power.


Comics in the classroom

Teaching Degree Blog has a great list of resources for using comics in the classroom.