Tuesday 25 February 2014

Comics – a new tool for teachers

A student drawing in deep concentration. 
The University of Eastern Finland organised a grassroots comics workshop as a part of a Master's programme for international students in February. The participants were mainly teachers from Namibia who studied in Joensuu in the Faculty of Education for a few months. The workshop was part of lecturer Raisa Simola's course ”African literature in primary education”. 

The course was open for everyone so also some Finnish and Japanese students had a chance to take part in the comics workshop. The workshop was tutored by Sanna Hukkanen, Artist and World Comics member who lives in Joensuu.

The workshop lasted only for three hours so the time was limited and all participants did not manage to finish inking their comics. But they were very enthusiastic about the subject and asked lots of questions. They also compared the situations in the sample comics from different countries with the situation in their home country. There was a short debate about disabled people's rights, just to mention one subject that came up.

The best part of the workshop, as always, was the discussion on the comics made by the participants. Seeing each others' work, and showing their own comics was inspiring. The students were positively surprised about how easy it was to draw the comics, but also about how well the others understood and interpreted them. The comics were readable and valid a across the cultural boundaries.

For the Namibian participants this was the first time ever that they made comics, for the others the medium was familiar. All participants were very happy to learn about grassroots comics and about the free materials for download in the World Comics website. They were sure that they will be using comics in their work in the future. They came up with many ideas on how comics could be used in teaching.

(posted by Sanna Hukkanen)

Comic by Andreas

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Disabled students' comics

A small group of disabled students had a grassroots comics workshop in the VAMLAS student housing unit in Lauttasaari in Helsinki in January. The VAMLAS Foundation promotes inclusion, study and work opportunities for youths with disabilities (read more at www.vamlas.fi ) 
These were also the themes that the participants made comics about. They all had lots of thoughts of what stories they wanted to make. The morning started with frantic discussions, and at the end of the day there were poignant comics on the wall, for all of us to admire. The process seemed almost effortless.  
A few details from the workshop:
Ellu's story is about a severely disabled student that frightened her teacher by her appearance and was then ignored in the class. The student made a very determined effort and got good grades. In the last panel the teacher concludes: “So, even that one seems to learn”.

Kira made her story about a disabled person that, after some doubt, was given a job. She is good at her job and the manager is positively surprised.

Noora's story is about a boy who asks his mother why the disabled person looks so funny. His mother says “get into the car!” and they speed off. The disabled person wonders what explanation the mother gives to the boy in  the car.

SV made a story about the treshold disabled persons face when going for further studies.

Minna’s story gives an example of how a person in a wheelchair can share her reaching aid with a colleague.