Political Cartoons

Editorial: n.

1. An article in a publication expressing the opinion of its editors or publishers.
2. A commentary on television or radio expressing the opinion of the station or network.

We spend a lot of time in schools working with persuasive writing, helping students develop ways to structure an argument and pursuade others about their opinion.  An often overlooked editorial medium for high school students is political cartoons.

Five Activities:
1) Look at the following cartoon and discuss it as a large group.


  • What two events does this cartoon talk about (satirize)?
  • What is the overall meaning of the cartoon?  How does the author get across these ideas?
  • What symbols are used in the cartoon?
  • What does the characterization tell you about the author’s belief? What other techniques does he use to create meaning? How does the cartoonist show rather than tell the reader what he believes?
  • Why do you agree with the cartoonists opinion?  Why or why not?
  • What political or social issues do you feel strongly about? Explain to a peer what these are and why you feel this way about them.

(encourage students to take hunches on this).

2) Look at other cartoons at a cartoon website that have guided lessons.  Here is a timely one about Health Care.

3) Find and cut out a large amount of current or historical cartoons.  Ask students in small groups to discuss the editorial meaning of the cartoon.

4) Have students find a cartoon from when they were born, or an important time of their life? What event, movement, person, or group is it about? What is the message? How does it show its meaning?  What do you believe about this?  What did your parents believe at the time?

5)Have students create their own political cartoon.

    • Find an interesting current event
    • Pick a belief or opinion you have about that event
    • How can you express this in a picture? What symbols might you use? What techniques can you use to show the reader what you mean?

Resources on the Political Cartoons:

Let curiosity be the guide …