On July 13, Gary Lawrence was back in the classroom, but he wasn’t in his usual room at Mustard Seed School overlooking Church Square Park in Hoboken, NJ. He was in in Seoul, Korea, at the weeklong International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME). His students weren’t the Seventh and Eighth students at Mustard Seed School. Instead, Mr. Lawrence’s standing-room only audience included education researchers, math education professors, and graduate students from around the world.
The ICME invited Mr. Lawrence and Dr. Hoyun Cho, Assistant Professor of Education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, to present a workshop titled Using Comics and Cartoons to Increase Interest and Motivation. In the workshop, Lawrence and Cho revealed their findings from a yearlong study of the use of cartoons in Lawrence’s pre-algebra and algebra classes at Mustard Seed School. Lawrence and Cho’s was the only one of the 41 workshops to address this subject.
“We have found that instructional comics stimulate student interest and motivation,” said Lawrence. “They can reduce anxiety and support other educational goals such as building persistence and creativity in problem solving. They enhance critical thinking.”
He said, “We enjoyed a truly global audience. Asia and Europe were well represented. America, too. We demonstrated that in 15 minutes of problem solving with cartoons three times a week, students consider and absorb significant math material."