Communication both in written and verbal form is one of the most important 21st-century skills that students should learn. All of us need to learn how to communicate well to excel in life. There are three main reasons for human communication: Educate, inform, or relate. These reasons change as we talk. We often communicate to change or impact other people’s opinions about a certain issue. One can communicate without influencing, but one cannot influence without communicating. Cartoonists have always used this skill to convey their views on politics, such as to criticize the government and other people who are in power. They are also sometimes used to make a statement about an issue that is happening in the world. As a result, they can be very persuasive and influential.
Political Cartoon Analysis teaches students how to understand cartoons and what they say about society, culture, politics, and more. It also teaches them how to analyze cartoons that they see online or in newspapers. It has always been a powerful tool in shaping public opinion.
In our grade 5 and 6 Social Studies class, when this topic was introduced, students initially thought that it would be something funny thing to do.
Later they realized that while political cartoons can be funny, that is not their main purpose. They were primarily created to persuade their audience to take a particular view of an event. A political cartoon that is successful can generate agreement in someone to the point where they adopt the opinions of the cartoonist. In this way, it can be a powerful tool to influence other people’s opinions.
Students were introduced to the history of the cartoons and later they were taught how to decode the script. Cartoons rely heavily upon a very simple visual ‘code’ rather than words to convey their message. After learning how this code works, we can use it to decode the message that is encoded in a cartoon. Students thoroughly enjoyed how things are exaggerated (caricatures) to catch the attention of the reader such as symbols and their meanings. For example, using a ‘puppet’ could represent being controlled and greed can be represented by an octopus.
Later they tried interpreting some of the cartoons related to social media and answering questions such as who or what is represented by the characterization, stereotypes, and symbols. Then students were asked to depict their debate topics in the form of cartoons which they have been working on for the monthly Friday club; they did really well and showed some amazing skills.