Where I am, and Where I Want to go

I thought long and hard about where I’d like to take my Inquiry Blog. I flip-flopped through a few concepts, wracking my brain to find something that

  1. I knew something about but could still research further,
  2. Ties into the readings of adolescent literacy and what that means – there must be some sort of literary or educational side to it

and finally,

3. I can’t get bored with the subject a week from now and find myself committed to a topic I care very little for.

In the end, I landed on something deceptively simple: Superheroes.

Comic books fundamentally manage to cover a lot of bases because of their drawn and written format. Mixing images and text create a complex form of storytelling all its own. Not to stop there though, superheroes have grown from those pages, and have seeped into almost every form of art and entertainment known to man. This resonated with me as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction defined Disciplinary Learning as “content knowledge, experiences, and skills merged with the ability to read, write, listen, speak, think critically, and perform in a way that is meaningful within the context”, and when you start to translate and adapt these characters and stories to different mediums, that’s exactly what you are doing.

Having grown up with comic books, they mean a great deal to me. I do know a fair amount of the long and sorted history, including the “Seduction of Innocence” legal battles of the 50’s (an emerging art form being labeled as dangerous, where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, every emerging art form in history has been labeled as dangerous at one point or another).

I’ve always loved subjects that can work on two levels: the surface level for simple entertainment or for younger minds, and the deeper level with headier topics and denser content. Something like Pixar’s “Up” where children can see physical gags and colorful balloons, while adults can see Mr. and Mrs. Fredrickson are unable to birth children, and Mrs. Fredrickson passes away leaving no one else in Mr. Fredrickson’s life. This duality allows almost everyone to draw some enjoyment out of it, and I feel superheroes can walk that line quite clearly.

Where I would like to take this topic, is to delve deeper into the history of superheroes to see just what about them exactly is so engaging, and how they manage to resonate with almost anyone. Also, I would like to see just how superheroes are used in an educational context to teach more than just drawing skills and story writing, but also conceptual and emotional skills as well.

A few resources I have found thus far are:
A brief history of comic books

What is a superhero?

A book on what heroes can teach us about being human (I already own it)

–  The benefits of comics for reading skills

How to draw comics

and, whether or not I’ll actually use it for this class, I did quite like the title of this text

“Without Comics there’d be no me” Teachers as Connoisseurs of Adolescents’ Literary Lives