Replacing traditional texts?

A colleague proposed an interesting question to me today. I didn’t ask, but I’m assuming it’s okay to pose it here:

Is it possible for graphic texts to replace traditional texts in classrooms?
Is this something we — educators, literacy instructors, English teachers, academics, citizens, or whomever you are — would want to see?

On one hand, I see a huge push for leaning more toward visual learning styles. How many graphic organizers have you been asked (or even forced) to use as formative assessment in the last few years? How great would it be if YouTube were more accessible within the school building as an instructional tool? How many of us see student engagement *click* in response to art and images in ways that texts often fail to accomplish? Given the bombardment of imagery via television and internet media and its predictable growth via handheld telecommunication devices, we definitely need to consider how students are taught to read and analyze images as texts. As culture changes, so must classrooms …

On another hand, how awful would it be to replace a rich literary tradition with occasionally-watered down versions of classics — or to completely disregard classic literature altogether? Batman is great, but Huck Finn can’t be disregarded.

And then there is this.
Direct mail from Maryland Democrat Nancy King's campaign for Senate.

If I lived in Maryland, King might be the only Democrat I’ve never voted for.

But back to that original question … thoughts?


About marcginsberg

I teach high school English in Athens, GA. I read graphic novels and catch live music whenever possible. I walk my dog Humphrey and kid myself that I'm a distance runner.
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2 Responses to Replacing traditional texts?

  1. Meghan Roper says:

    Is it possible for graphic texts to replace traditional texts in classrooms?

    I think that this is a common thought across educators in all fields of academics. I think that educators today are trying to rely less on using textbooks in the classroom, and more on other methods of teaching to promote higher order of thinking and learning. One thing we’ve disucssed in my master’s program is the use of visuals such as photographs to create empathy among the students. Students tend to learn or remember more when they can emotionally connect to the content. While some students may connect to reading about the holocaust in a textbook, many more will connect if they see images of concentration camps, and conditions of the holocaust. By showing the images, these students are know connecting to the topic. Thinking about how they feel about this part of history… and are more likely to remember this period of history in the future.

    Traditional texts are cut and dry. Students generally do not think about the topics or content in these texts. In settings where texts are the primary resource, students are more than likely learning for recall and making little connections to the content. By using images, I think that students will be encouraged to not only think for themselves, but connect to the content.

    So in response to your question, yes I do think it is possible for images to replace traditonal texts in the classrooms. šŸ™‚

    • Print media isn’t going away any time soon, but visual literacy IS something literacy teachers need to start explicitly instructing. Just as we are adjusting to new technologies in the classroom, we must also redefine literacy in the traditional sense. Future English teachers (and other disciplines too) need to be prepared in their grad programs to take visual and critical media literacy seriously. We have to get rid of the antiquated attitudes about teaching literature as some high culture, elite pursuit, not throw out the quality works of art! BTW, Love your post about Dewey and constructive, process-oriented learning! Let’s take the best of the past and work with our digital native students using graphic novels in the ELA classroom!


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