I started reading comics at the age of 7, through Disney comic books and a Black vs White Spy… well that was a silent comic but even without word balloons it trained my mind to comprehend stories and plots… Which is to prove useful for drawing comics years later.
As young as I was, I never got tired reading those books over and over. It was an entertaining education for me, and benefited me well as I studied in a private school that strictly forbids speaking Filipino inside the campus (Edna’s School)
So I’m all for comics as a medium for education. Browsing through the net, I found a site that is full of insights on what this medium can provide. The site, Comics in Education, is an online version of a project proposal by Gene Yang, a highschool teacher and cartoonist from California. He has put together a great array of points to teach us, if some have failed to realize yet, the potentials of comics.
The site also highlights the history of this goal. Many have in the past tried to prove its worth in education, which of course met opposition:
Educators eventually lined up on both sides of the debate. Many, like Child Study Association of America Director Sidonie Gruenberg, saw comics as a force to be harnessed for education. Gruenberg (1944) cited numerous examples of educational comics for a variety of subjects, noting: “There is hardly a subject that does not lend itself to presentation through this medium”. Others saw comics as a stumbling block to literacy. Nebraska principal Lucile Rosencrans, for instance, believed that comics impeded reading comprehension, imagination, and caused eyestrain. School librarians were especially vehement in their disapproval of comic books, vilifying comics as an enemy of other reading.[more here]
The Philippines as far as I know, has yet to initiate a decent debate regarding this matter.
Embracing the real value of comics to our society and having good material readily available and encouraging everybody to read, will definitely shed off numbers from the 9 million functionally illiterate in the country today. Create stories from our cultural heritage and history, or that which instills national pride, and we could probably mold a better country