Political cartoons offer students the opportunity to learn history, current events, and the daunting task of interpreting abstract symbolism. Analysis of political cartoons is not only challenging, but expands the learner's world view as they are exposed to opposing viewpoints. There are countless resources for teachers that want to use political cartoons. The intention of this section is to show how they can fit in to the larger scope of the unit on humor and abstract thought.
When we analyze political cartoons, we follow virtually the same process as with The Far Side. We begin with concrete observations, then move to inferences that are supported by their observations. The process diverges as the final part of the analysis involves the students drawing conclusions as to what they believe the author's/cartoonist's opinion is regarding the topic of their creation. Due to the challenge of the vast array of possible topics for political cartoons, analyzing is typically conducted in small groups.
Independently, students search for and bring in their favorite cartoons. They share their analyses within small groups, as well as with the entire class. Another challenging task is when students are asked to search for two political cartoons that are based on the same topic, but have opposing viewpoints. This leads to the intriguing discussion of how humor is used within the cartoons to persuade.
Resources for historical political cartoons:
Resources for current political cartoons:
Downloadable Document that I created for practicing written analysis:
Weekly "You Write The Caption" contest from the Charlotte Observer: