How about cartoon characters in the curriculum? Children are upbeat about having them as part of their mundane text books. But others involved in the process of schooling are wary, finds NEETI SARKAR
They’re not going to be limited to the television anymore! In fact, they’re going to adorn the pages of textbooks now. Comic characters Donald Duck, Wonder Woman and Batman are set to enter the academic curriculum of Dalhousie University next year. The University will introduce a new course in Comics and Cartoons that will trace the history of cartoons and comics, from 18th and 19th century political propaganda to the golden age of Marvel and DC. Whether or not this kind of educational innovation would work here is for the experts to tell.
According to Santosh Kanavalli, a school principal: “Incorporating comic characters in the school curriculum definitely enhances the learning experiences of children, especially in the primary and middle school levels. Amar Chitra Katha series is already being used extensively in many schools in India to complement Social Studies curriculum in our country. The graphical illustrations bring the characters alive and impacts visual learning.”
Suhasi Ratnam, an English teacher says: “Considering a child’s attention span is very short, comic heroes in textbooks could help grab the attention of children. Lessons would even progress faster if children co-operate with the teacher. And this kind of cooperation is something a comic text could facilitate.” Parents also seem to think this kind of innovation should make way into their children’s syllabii. Seema, a mother of two says, “It finally won’t be difficult for us to get our kids to study! In fact, we would have to tell them to give their books a break if superheroes are going to be studied about.”
Obviously the students would be the most content lot if their syllabus included the study of their favourite comic characters. Ayushi, a nine year old says: “I would like to study about Bugs Bunny, Minnie Mouse and Popeye. They are very fascinating characters and everybody loves them.”
The boys however prefer to study about action heroes like Batman, Superman and the like. Says Joseph Kurien, a 11 year old: “I would hardly want to play in the evenings if I had a text book about my favourite cartoon characters. I watch a lot of action cartoons and would like to study about them in detail.”
Although many school kids are in favour of comic texts, very few would actually want to study about cartoons that have their origin in India. Many prefer to only watch Indian cartoons on television.
The only danger teachers perceive is that if children have a literature text that contained their favourite superheroes, those would be the only books they would read and study, while the other subjects could get neglected. It would even be difficult for parents to get their children to focus on other subjects.
Psycologist Shruthi Ahluwalia feels, “If such an innovation takes place in our system, it would be better for these comic texts to be a part of only school activity. Actual studying must happen at home. Such texts could become an addiction and it would be very difficult to reason with a child about why he needs to prioritise.” All this makes us wonder if pop culture is an accurate mirror of our times. According to sociologist Sushil Chandranath: “Cartoons in the curriculum would be a significant and dramatic contribution to popular culture which has only been dominated by other activities and patterns like music and theatre. And with the change in times, an innovation like this would simply mirror the new age.”