Posts Tagged ‘Editorial Cartoons’

6 Reasons Why Editorial Cartoons Are an Essential Teaching Tool

“One strong editorial cartoon is worth a hundred solemn editorials.”
—William Zinsser, On Writing Well


CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

My seventh-grade social studies teacher gave extra credit to students who brought in editorial cartoons for class discussions. Luckily for me, stacks of newspapers were common in my house. My father was a printing-press operator and a newspaper addict. We got three newspapers daily and sometimes more when my father couldn’t resist a newsstand. So I got a lot of extra credit that year.

Editorial cartoons are all that I remember from that class. My newspaper monopoly aside, I remember being captivated by grown-up cartoons and wanted to understand them, which is how I became interested in current events and issues. I still get excited when I see editorial cartoons. An astute cartoon is an oasis in a wit-starved world.

To accompany our Editorial Cartoons Curriculum Guide, here are six reasons why editorial cartoons are an enduring curriculum essential.

Why do you think editorial cartoons are an essential teaching tool?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter #ProQuest or in the comments below.

ProQuest editors are continually adding editorial cartoons to ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Don’t have it? Request a trial.

Editorial Cartoons and Visual Literacy

The origins of editorial cartoons date back to the eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, several magazines such as Punch and Harper’s Weekly were publishing editorial and political cartoons. It was during this time that Thomas Nast,  known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” popularized editorial cartoons with his take-down of corrupt politicians–particularly “Boss” Tweed. Nast is also known for his his creation of the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey.

"Boss" Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast.

“Boss” Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visual Literacy and Common Core Standards

Several forms of literary and visual devices such as exaggeration, personification, symbolism, irony, satire and caricature are often used in editorial cartoons. Because of this, editorial cartoons support dynamic classroom lessons in Visual Literacy. Cartoons invite students to think critically and analyze what they see in the images. Such cartoons also provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate bias and point of view as most cartoonists illustrate their beliefs towards their subjects.

Find Editorial Cartoons on SIRS Discoverer

Editorial and political cartoons are featured throughout SIRS Discoverer on a wide variety of topics. Cartoons are editorially selected from prize-winning and reliable sources. These cartoons can be located though a Subject Heading search and a Subject Tree search. In addition to these searches, a cartoon can be found within the In the News feature where at the beginning of each month, SIRS editors hand-select an editorial cartoon that focuses on a news event. Students are then invited to answer a question based on the featured text and cartoon.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

Want to know even more about the editorial cartoons? Patrick Chappatte is cartoonist who is often featured within SIRS Discoverer. Take a look at his TED Talk where he discusses the power of cartoons.

Teaching with Editorial Cartoons

ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher database is rich in graphic content, including a large collection of editorial cartoons that offer insight into key social issues of the past and present. Editorial cartoons can be valuable learning tools for young researchers. Students are naturally drawn to cartoons, and these primary source documents grab their attention, are thought-provoking, and are often quite funny. Assignments based on analyzing editorial cartoons can help students develop the visual literacy and critical thinking skills they will need as they continue their education.

Many of the 335 SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues highlight editorial cartoons. These cartoons can help students understand the pros and cons of the issue and encourage them to learn more about it. Here are just a few examples of Leading Issues that use editorial cartoons that may spark an interest in your students: Body Image, Business Ethics, Controversial Mascots, Cursive Writing, Helicopter Parents, Internet and Mobile Advertising and Tanning Salons.

Teach Higher Order Thinking with Editorial Cartoons

Example of Editorial Cartoon in an Article Featured in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

The Common Core State Standards call for application of knowledge through higher order thinking skills. One way to promote such skills is through editorial cartoons provided in SIRS Discoverer. When students analyze primary sources, such as editorial cartoons, they interpret events of the time by deciphering the meaning of each image within the cartoon. Students then can develop a variety of critical thinking skills as they learn how a point of view is demonstrated visually with symbols, irony, and satire. Find editorial cartoons through the Activities section of SIRS Discoverer located under Database Features.

SIRS Discoverer Is “In the News”

“In the News” Feature in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Global Awareness, a Common Core State Standard, prepares students for college and career readiness. One way to teach students about the world is through the study and analyses of current events. Besides ongoing current events coverage, SIRS Discoverer offers a monthly feature called In the News. Located within the Spotlight of the Month, In the News provides an age-appropriate article of current interest along with two tools for critical thinking: a multiple-choice question and a challenge to analyze a related Editorial Cartoon. In the News is a tool to teach current events in the classroom, at home or in the media center.