By Tjeerd Royaards
Last Thursday (May 19), the special project about the Millennium Development Goals was concluded in Amsterdam with the presentation of the book 'Kids & Cartoonists'. The project was a collaboration between 82 cartoonists and more than 200 students from five high schools throughout the Netherlands. Together, they came up with over 300 ideas for cartoons about the environment, water, energy and human rights. From these, 98 cartoons were selected for this cartoon book, which will be used in schools to teach about the MDGs, and about the value of editorial cartooning.
All the cartoons that have been made for this project can be found on the website, but the sheer volume of cartoons, both published and in the newsroom, might make it difficult to get an idea of the project. The slideshow below gives an overview of some of the best sketches that were submitted by students, and the cartoons that were made by cartoonists on the basis of those sketches.
The project was made possible with funding by NCDO, a Dutch organization dedicated to creating awareness about the Millennium Development Goals and European Development Policy. This was our first project mixing editorial cartoons with education, and at the start of the project (December 2010), we did not quite know what to expect. Would high school students be interested in editorial cartoons, and would professional cartoonists be interested in collaborating with the students?
In the first two months of the new year, we (me and my colleague running our Foundation) visited a number of schools to tell about the project and to get students involved. The response we got was great. To my surprise, the students were very interested in cartoons, and most had a very good eye for what the cartoonist was trying to say. I heard some new and valid interpretations of cartoons, and some students even spotted things in cartoons I had missed.
So far, so good. Students liked cartoons, and were interested in hearing about them. Phase II of the project was to get them actively involved in the making of cartoons. We created a special section in our newsroom for students and cartoonists to use, and basically waited to see what would happen. The first ones to respond were the cartoonists, and soon the newsroom was filling up with with great cartoons. Then, students started trying out the newsroom; a bit hesitant at first, but as they received positive feedback from their fellow students and cartoonists, the amount of contributions rapidly increased.
Some photos taken at the book presentation:
One thing that concerned me in this project was that cartoonists are used to developing their own ideas into cartoons. Would they want to draw an idea that someone else came up with? Again, the response was great and far exceeded my expectations. The dynamic that evolved during the two months students and cartoonists worked together in the newsroom was the highlight of the project, and for me it showed the great potential of editorial cartoons as a tool in education, beyond just interpreting cartoons, but by having students work together with artists from all over the world to actively come up with ideas about certain subjects.
The project not only resulted in a great book with some brilliant cartoons, but also in a commitment of Cartoon Movement to continue with these kinds of collaborations, with schools in the Netherlands, but also schools in other parts of the world.
Tjeerd Royaards is an editor at Cartoon Movement.