On this episode of the What a Relief Podcast, B.C. Dodge has an inspiring conversation with Tim Smyth, an educator and innovator in the classroom. Smyth is using comics to reach kids who otherwise wouldn’t read or care about certain subject matters. His innovative pedagogical efforts bring forth a fresh look into literature for many students.
But comics aren’t the hook; it’s what sort of comics Smyth chooses that has shifted the playing field for his band of students.
First, his start into teaching came at a pivotal time in America, forever shaping his perspective. “My second day on the job was 9/11. I saw how everybody regardless of faith and background came together and it really cemented for me why I wanted to be a teacher,” Smyth reflected.
Additionally, Smyth believes that out of all graphic novels, Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis’ trilogy based on his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement touches youth the most. Lewis is a living symbol of the struggle for progress in America. His legacy walks into the room far before he does. He said, “John Lewis is my go to for teaching using a character.”
Smyth’s explorations into the effectiveness of comics in the classroom has led him around the country leading professional development forums, education workshops, and communing with educators in general.
What inspired Smyth’s love for leading learners was his sudden reflex reaction to a student who saw herself in a story. “There was a Kuwaiti girl whose father was here working with US military. She felt completely isolated and she saw a picture of me and G. Willow Wilson, who is the Islamic author who converted to Islam. She’s from Washington State and she writes about this 16-year-old Pakistani girl from Jersey City in Ms. Marvel. She told me it’s the first time she felt welcome here,” Smyth said.
History Comics @historycomics is Smyth’s official twitter handle where he holds conversations all about comics and education. It was online where he learned about the recent immigration ban. The ban spurred him into action and eventually led him to his ardent support of Islamic Relief USA.
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“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Hosted by digital media specialist B.C. Dodge, IRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!
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