Treasure & Manga High: Literacy, Identity, and Coming of Age in an Urban High School
Manga High: Literacy, Identity, and Coming of Age in an Urban High School is a summary of a four-year comics literacy research project of Dr. Michael Bitz. It explores the convergence of literacy, creativity, social development, and personal identity, of students coming of age. Bitz tracked students from his afterschool Comic Book Project (CBP), a literacy program that harnesses the power of making comics and learning. The school, Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, at the time the study began, was one of New York City’s largest high schools with 2,600 students enrolled. Bitz’s goal is to illustrate how creating comic art gets at every major literacy skill.
Naturally I was curious read Manga High, it recognizes the experience here at CCS summer workshops as improving the student’s confidence and overall outlook. The Center for Cartoon Studies partners with the Comic Book Project to award summer Create Comics workshop scholarships.
Manga High is an informative book with compelling testimonial from both students and teachers. It includes a portfolio of several examples of student work, embedded in dedicated chapters. One of the students, Treasure, is here now attending CCS’s Create Comics workshop! I just confirmed with her, that in fact she is the same Treasure (chapter 12) of Manga High. When I approached her with the book, she was embarrassed and felt the work featured doesn’t really reflect her current skills and talent. A student sitting next to her said we NEED Treasure in this class. She blushed, but I think recognizes her contributions, talent, and enthusiasm.
I took the photo above yesterday of the project she’s working on while here at CCS. Keith, another CBP and CCS student, is also featured in Manga High. Both really have made an impression in the class, worked hard, and took full advantage of the experience.
The workshop experience here in Vermont extends beyond making comics. It offers an exchange of cultural credits. Having moved from a big city to a small town a few years ago, I can relate to the shock these students must have felt when they stepped off the train, and entered this small town setting. Green hills, fresh air, quietness, fashionless, brandless…foreign, entirely new literacy of people and culture to absorb.
Thanks Michael! We’re grateful for all your work.
About Dr. Michael Bitz, EdD
Bitz is the founder of the Comic Book Project and cofounder of the Youth Music Exchange. Bitz has served as faculty at Teachers College, and Columbia University. The first recipient of the Educational Entrepreneurship Fellowship at Mind Trust in Indianapolis, he received the Distinguished Alumni Early Career Award from Teachers College at Columbia University.
The Comic Book Project
Harvard Education Press: