As we are taking time to study the election, the Constitution, and the founding of the United States, my children and I attended an art exhibit from a prominent local political cartoonist, David Boyd. You might recognize his name or illustration style from Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck books and figurines. He also illustrated for Lewis Gizzard.
Mr. Boyd has been drawing the cartoons for the Newnan Times Herald since 1968 and retired this June. He’s seen the state of Georgia swing from Democrat to mostly Republican and has kept our area laughing with his pointed cartoons showing current political happenings and climate. You can still find him having coffee at the Redneck Gourmet where he’s happy to discuss politics.
During an election season unlike any I’ve ever seen, I’ve struggled teaching my young learners about the process since I haven’t been comfortable letting them watch very much of it on television. They are young and visuals are very helpful. This exhibit allowed us to discuss everything from Carter to Obama without exposing my children to the more adult side of politics. If you are looking for a way to teach about politics, consider using political cartoons.
We discussed these topics as a result of our exposure to the political cartoon display:
- the debate process and how it should work
- how humor can sway a person’s perception
- how political cartoons educate readers
- how our country has changed over time
We spoke of the many presidents seen in the illustrations. We discussed the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and how they might view these cartoons. And my sons saw first hand how it is completely possible to make a difference and have a voice through art.
These lessons are not the kind a child forgets. Being able to take a complex subject and break it down into snippets that are easily understood and presented in a light hearted way helps to build a foundation of understanding. For older children and adults, it is also thought provoking to study the images, the symbolism, and the satire used in political cartoons.
Art has a way of bringing history to life that no other medium has. It captures feelings of people, of time periods, and events and it allows us to experience them as well. When you are studying the electoral process, the party systems, or other politically oriented parts of history and government, try adding some political art into the mix. Maybe even have your children create their own political cartoons!