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"Censorship at it's finest"


Aoife
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Here's the thing - when you are teaching other people's kids you DO need to be censored because you have a responsibility to the "group". Period. I could think of a hundred other books which would excite a teenager into reading which would not have caused this controversy. She really should have known this when she began the book club. If she didn't - she was very naive.

 

As homeschool parents we don't have this consideration - if you want your teens to read Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles - more power to you. But my son has better things to do than "explore the world of children sexually abusing other children" during our literature time together.

 

There is nothing wrong with parents wanting their teens to avoid destructiveness and dark truths in life for as long as possible and one way of doing this is to be selective in their reading lists.

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Here's the thing - when you are teaching other people's kids you DO need to be censored because you have a responsibility to the "group". Period. I could think of a hundred other books which would excite a teenager into reading which would not have caused this controversy. She really should have known this when she began the book club. If she didn't - she was very naive.

 

As homeschool parents we don't have this consideration - if you want your teens to read Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles - more power to you. But my son has better things to do than "explore the world of children sexually abusing other children" during our literature time together.

 

There is nothing wrong with parents wanting their teens to avoid destructiveness and dark truths in life for as long as possible and one way of doing this is to be selective in their reading lists.

 

I completely agree. While I don't believe in censorship in the greater community (library, bookstores), I fully embrace the right of parents to petition for the exclusion of a book from a public school literature circle.

 

This woman's emotional appeals do little to sway me, and they actually annoy me. She is behaving unprofessionally with this post. Cut out all the crying and personal life stories and state your case. My guess is her lack of professionalism was a bigger issue with her job situation than the censorship issues.

Edited by Daisy
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I remember reading books as a teen that were "questionable" for the time. I also remember the worried feelings I had after reading and how the stories often haunted me long after finishing the book. Looking back, I probably would not feel that way reading them as an adult. I remember NOT liking the feeling those books gave me. Now, keep in mind, these books were not part of a school reading list. I have been shocked by some of the approved books on school lists...and I am not conservative.

 

And guess what...the last time I checked, those teachers are being paid to educate other people's kids. You bet your cute patootie I better have a say in what my kids read. My tax dollars pay these teachers. Since when do public employees have the freedom to do as they please and not answer to anyone?

 

I'm sure this will not be a popular comment, but, oh well...

 

There are better books to read than some of those on this teacher's list. I personally prefer to challenge my kids abilities with classics...not provide them easy readers so they don't have to think while they read. Just another way of dumbing down the classroom. Great books can be written about the human (teen) struggle without being smutty. Some of these books are just plain trash. But that's just my opinion.

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Here's the thing - when you are teaching other people's kids you DO need to be censored because you have a responsibility to the "group". Period. I could think of a hundred other books which would excite a teenager into reading which would not have caused this controversy. She really should have known this when she began the book club. If she didn't - she was very naive.

 

As homeschool parents we don't have this consideration - if you want your teens to read Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles - more power to you. But my son has better things to do than "explore the world of children sexually abusing other children" during our literature time together.

 

There is nothing wrong with parents wanting their teens to avoid destructiveness and dark truths in life for as long as possible and one way of doing this is to be selective in their reading lists.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

I think the school made the right choice in reviewing her choices and "banning" the books. It is NOT her choice what any child is exposed to.

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I completely agree. While I don't believe in censorship in the greater community (library, bookstores), I fully embrace the right of parents to petition for the exclusion of a book from a public school literature circle.

 

This woman's emotional appeals do little to sway me, and they actually annoy me. She is behaving unprofessionally with this post. Cut out all the crying and personal life stories and state your case.

 

I couldn't agree with you more!

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And guess what...the last time I checked, those teachers are being paid to educate other people's kids. You bet your cute patootie I better have a say in what my kids read. My tax dollars pay these teachers. Since when do public employees have the freedom to do as they please and not answer to anyone?

 

I'm sure this will not be a popular comment, but, oh well...

 

There are better books to read than some of those on this teacher's list. I personally prefer to challenge my kids abilities with classics...not provide them easy readers so they don't have to think while they read. Just another way of dumbing down the classroom. Great books can be written about the human (teen) struggle without being smutty. Some of these books are just plain trash. But that's just my opinion.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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It sounds like her lack of support from the administration was a much bigger problem than the books themselves.

 

As a parent, my preference would be that the teacher sent home a list of books and had parents choose which (or all.. or none) are appropriate for their children. It sounded like kids were reading different books... and this wasn't an English class, it was an afterschool activity. Parents should have pulled their kids out if it was a problem. The community seemed to be after blood.

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I think the issue of what books she was making available to the students is somewhat beside the point.

 

This was a teacher who improved student performance and got students excited about the subject she taught. She maintains that again and again she worked within set policies and guidelines. This is not someone nefariously sneaking books in to kids. Every book she used had been approved. Despite this the whole thing seemed to start on the basis of one complaint.

 

Because the basic concern of an educational student is really not to educate but to preserve the system. This teacher, even though she was working well within the parameters of the system, rocked the boat. She got parents noticing what was happening in their school. What worse crime is there for one cog in the machine? You're supposed to keep your head low and aim for mediocrity because as soon as the parents notice what's going on, for good or ill, they might get it into their heads that the system is accountable to them.

 

I can't believe that because some might not agree with her choices in reading material for kids that they'd overlook that fact. That they'd write her off and defend what was done to her.

 

But then, even the parents were doing it to her. They were the ones writing letters to the editor and praying outside her door and accusing her of "agendas". I suppose because it's easier to villify someone then sit down and have a thoughtful discussion and nail out some compromise. that takes a bit of time. Much easier (and self-satisfying) to mutter a prayer for their soul as you pass them.

 

This makes me angry I guess. It makes me angry that people will buy that this is about censorship or about protecting kids from books. That no one will look behind the curtain and see that the real villain is the education system and it's sense of self-preservation.

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It sounds like her lack of support from the administration was a much bigger problem than the books themselves.

 

As a parent, my preference would be that the teacher sent home a list of books and had parents choose which (or all.. or none) are appropriate for their children. It sounded like kids were reading different books... and this wasn't an English class, it was an afterschool activity. Parents should have pulled their kids out if it was a problem. The community seemed to be after blood.

 

Yup.

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The community seemed to be after blood.

 

 

Of course, this is her telling of what went on...

 

We are only reading one side. I wonder how the opposition felt about the whole thing?

 

If this is truly how it all went down, then, yes, it was handled badly.

 

BUT, from what I read, were these kids in middle school? Seems to me some of those titles "might" be better for older teens. I think she should have had better judgement and should not have assumed that the content in some of the books would not be questioned.

 

Also, keep in mind, these books, although for the YA audience, were written by adults. Even though adults are writing to appeal to the YA audience, they are adults with more life experiences under their belts. The adult eyes see and interpret things in a different way than kids. What is not explicit to an adult might be very disturbing to a young teen that has not had many, if any, adult-like experiences.

 

I know my 13 year old son would not AT ALL be okay reading some of those titles. Heck, I don't think my 17 year old daughter would be okay.

 

Again, JMHO. YMMV. :001_smile:

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Hmmm. It would be helpful if I had ever read any of those questionable books but I wasn't impressed with ones I looked up at Amazon. I found her naive and did not care for the martyr role that she seemed determined to take on from the beginning. Whoever said that there are many other books that could have incited interest in reading was correct.

 

The thing that confused me was the difference between the books she allowed for class and those selections she made for the Moo Moo club (could not get past that name :confused:). She kept referencing optional reading but the classics were mentioned only scornfully, as a group rather than as individual titles, and she never addressed any attempts she might have made to encourage the teens to enjoy those great works. Did we even hear one classic title? I do not recall. That is quite revealing. If she can't get the kids to enjoy any or many classics, maybe she should evaluate her teaching skills. Getting kids to like titillating books is not really a challenge, is it?

 

I don't think that the reading for class (both the classics and the books available to the kids as optional reading choices) should be of questionable character (the problem, of course, being that different parents will apply very different standards). If she's going to have a book club on the side, however, I think she could be more free with her choices. Even then, she could send a list of books home with prospective members and get a parental signature to approve club membership. As a parent, I would simply not let my child participate in a book club if I felt there were inappropriate selections. The thing is that I really didn't understand where she was getting in trouble. Was it for the reading they were doing for class or for the club? To me, it matters.

 

I am not inclined to believe her entire story though, as I find her behavior less than genuine. To pull books that parents had problems with and then admit it was just until she achieved tenure and planned to put them back out there again is not honorable or mature behavior. If you believe in something, believe in it. Say so. Maybe you're not a good fit for that school or community. Gaining tenure and trying to force your choices on a community that has already expressed that they are a poor fit is worse than naive; it's passive-aggressive and virulent.

 

I did find the comments interesting (lots poor you!, me too!, alert the media!). It reminds me of the comments we give each other here at the WTM boards when some horrible public school, library, family support, etc. crisis comes up in a thread. Everyone has a group they relate to and can't understand how people could see it any other way.

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If it's a literature circle, you get the impression it's outside of the classroom. I too would feel okay having a list of choices to be approved before my child read them.

As a teacher, there's a broader responsibility to the parents, to the children, to the school, the district. Not just to yourself, your own desire to teach, etc, etc. You can't just say "I think this is great literature and so all children should be exposed to this great literature." We as homeschool parents all have different views on great literature and what I think is great may not be what you think is great. And so I might let my 13 yo or 10 yo read something you might not.

And there in lies the dilemma. Approval by parents is very easy - she could have easily sent home a list of books available. Parents could have done a little homework on them and they signed a release.

 

I feel bad for her situation but sometimes a little consideration goes a long way.

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Hmmm. It would be helpful if I had ever read any of those questionable books but I wasn't impressed with ones I looked up at Amazon. I found her naive and did not care for the martyr role that she seemed determined to take on from the beginning. Whoever said that there are many other books that could have incited interest in reading was correct.

 

The thing that confused me was the difference between the books she allowed for class and those selections she made for the Moo Moo club (could not get past that name :confused:). She kept referencing optional reading but the classics were mentioned only scornfully, as a group rather than as individual titles, and she never addressed any attempts she might have made to encourage the teens to enjoy those great works. Did we even hear one classic title? I do not recall. That is quite revealing. If she can't get the kids to enjoy any or many classics, maybe she should evaluate her teaching skills. Getting kids to like titillating books is not really a challenge, is it?

 

I don't think that the reading for class (both the classics and the books available to the kids as optional reading choices) should be of questionable character (the problem, of course, being that different parents will apply very different standards). If she's going to have a book club on the side, however, I think she could be more free with her choices. Even then, she could send a list of books home with prospective members and get a parental signature to approve club membership. As a parent, I would simply not let my child participate in a book club if I felt there were inappropriate selections. The thing is that I really didn't understand where she was getting in trouble. Was it for the reading they were doing for class or for the club? To me, it matters.

 

I am not inclined to believe her entire story though, as I find her behavior less than genuine. To pull books that parents had problems with and then admit it was just until she achieved tenure and planned to put them back out there again is not honorable or mature behavior. If you believe in something, believe in it. Say so. Maybe you're not a good fit for that school or community. Gaining tenure and trying to force your choices on a community that has already expressed that they are a poor fit is worse than naive; it's passive-aggressive and virulent.

 

I did find the comments interesting (lots poor you!, me too!, alert the media!). It reminds me of the comments we give each other here at the WTM boards when some horrible public school, library, family support, etc. crisis comes up in a thread. Everyone has a group they relate to and can't understand how people could see it any other way.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

I most vigorously agree with the lack of attempt made to have to the students at least try to handle some classic literature.

 

It disturbs me that she so easily dismissed classic literature as unattainable by her students. I somehow felt she thought it much easier to just give the students the easy way out just to get them to read. I dont' buy into the whole "as long as they are reading, I don't care what it is" line of thinking. Reading and literature are noble endeavors and should not be tarnished by substituting them with subpar materials that I would probably be embarrassed to read.

 

I also doubt that her efforts alone caused the test scores to go up in that school.

 

Once again, jmho. :001_smile:

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It sounds like her lack of support from the administration was a much bigger problem than the books themselves.

 

Yes.

 

I think the issue of what books she was making available to the students is somewhat beside the point.

 

This was a teacher who improved student performance and got students excited about the subject she taught. She maintains that again and again she worked within set policies and guidelines. This is not someone nefariously sneaking books in to kids. Every book she used had been approved. Despite this the whole thing seemed to start on the basis of one complaint.

 

Because the basic concern of an educational student is really not to educate but to preserve the system. This teacher, even though she was working well within the parameters of the system, rocked the boat. She got parents noticing what was happening in their school. What worse crime is there for one cog in the machine? You're supposed to keep your head low and aim for mediocrity because as soon as the parents notice what's going on, for good or ill, they might get it into their heads that the system is accountable to them.

 

I can't believe that because some might not agree with her choices in reading material for kids that they'd overlook that fact. That they'd write her off and defend what was done to her.

 

But then, even the parents were doing it to her. They were the ones writing letters to the editor and praying outside her door and accusing her of "agendas". I suppose because it's easier to villify someone then sit down and have a thoughtful discussion and nail out some compromise. that takes a bit of time. Much easier (and self-satisfying) to mutter a prayer for their soul as you pass them.

 

This makes me angry I guess. It makes me angry that people will buy that this is about censorship or about protecting kids from books. That no one will look behind the curtain and see that the real villain is the education system and it's sense of self-preservation.

 

You have some good points here. She was trying to work within the system. However, part of the system is parental values. If her selections are not OK with parents, it doesn't matter a whole lot if they were approved by a committee, you know? At that point, you have to ask yourself as an administrator whether the committee accurately represents the values of the community at large.

 

She could have solicited book options from the complaining folks, asked them what they would like to see, etc. That would have gone a long way to close the chasm between her and the parents. At least it would have been a goodwill gesture.

 

As I said above, though, I have zero respect for her putting books aside to reintroduce after gaining tenure. How is that on the up and up? I get the feeling she was following the letter of the law without a spirit of compromise or good will. There are more books, thousands and thousands of books. It seems to me that she was offended and irritated when her selections were called into question. It sounds like a bad case of "I know what's best." She was the expert, improving test scores (sadly, the only thing that seems to matter in education anymore) and everyone should stand back in awe of her incredible program. That was the impression I got, anyway.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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We are only reading one side. I wonder how the opposition felt about the whole thing?

 

Yep. Because of requirements to preserve this teacher's privacy, the school will not be able to write a long blog post on their side of the story. :001_smile:

 

I agree with Kristina. She did not come out looking that well in her blog post. :001_huh:

 

We had a high school English teacher come talk to our homeschool group (she was a friend of a member of the group.) Other than telling us that spelling isn't important ("They have spell check!",) she also told us that she saw her role as "opening ideas the parents wouldn't allow." She described how she would get books for students because their parents wouldn't allow them to read them and advise the students not to tell their parents about it. This is NOT an uncommon belief among teachers (saving the children from their misguided parents' standards.)

 

You also find a lot of teachers who want to be "cool buddies" with their students, needing to gain approval and attention wherever they can get it. Letting them read fun books and/or provocative books might have made her popular, but it didn't necessarily challenge the students.

Edited by angela in ohio
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We had a high school English teacher come talk to our homeschool group (she was a friend of a member of the group.) Other than telling us that spelling isn't important ("They have spell check!",) she also told us that she saw her role as "opening ideas the parents wouldn't allow." She described how she would get books for students because their parents wouldn't allow them to read them and advise the students not to tell their parents about it. This is NOT an uncommon belief among teachers (saving the children from their misguided parents' standards.)

 

Wow. I want my children to be exposed to different points of view--from meeting living people from different walks of life to some depth and breadth in the books they read. I actually think it's an important step in growing up to learn who you and what you believe relative to the vast scope of the rest of the world's experience. I think the place for most of these discussions is around the family dinner table, although classroom discussion can be provocative but still respectful when overseen by a responsible, mature teacher who does not see his/her way as the only way. On the other hand, for a teacher to actively disrespect the beliefs of students' families and encourage deceit is reprehensible and should lead to termination.

 

 

You also find a lot of teachers who want to be "cool buddies" with their students, needing to gain approval and attention wherever they can get it. Letting them read fun books and/or provocative books might have made her popular, but it didn't necessarily challenge the students.

 

Oh, yes! I remember this in high school and college. It was usually the younger teachers. This teacher does look quite young. I wonder how old she is.

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What bothers me about the whole post is her assertion that when she brought out the classics the kids 'couldn't read them'. Then it is your job to teach them! That's called being a 'teacher'. I am assuming during actual class times she is expected to teach literature including classics so obviously the kids can and do read them and at that point her job is to dissect and analyze to bring out the most of the book. I have absolutely nothing against kids reading YA, I read YA from time to time and I allow my girls to read some but I was really bothered by her blanket statement that the kids could not read the classics. If their test scores were improving I am willing to bet they could.

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Do you remember when you were in your 20's? I had a LOT of mixed up ideas (even as a Christian). A lot of my thoughts about things changed once I had kids and are changing again when my ds hit 10 years old. She's young and I think inexperience with life in general is a big player in this saga. She also had no idea about what is appropriate reading for that age group and seemed shocked that parents had problems with what the students were reading and not applauding her for higher test scores. I bet when her child is older, she might have trouble with those books also. If not, blame it on the progressive everything goes attitude prevalent in society. IMO, it doesn't seem the teacher had an agenda, she was just naive.

 

Beth

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Do you remember when you were in your 20's? I had a LOT of mixed up ideas (even as a Christian). A lot of my thoughts about things changed once I had kids and are changing again when my ds hit 10 years old. She's young and I think inexperience with life in general is a big player in this saga. She also had no idea about what is appropriate reading for that age group and seemed shocked that parents had problems with what the students were reading and not applauding her for higher test scores. I bet when her child is older, she might have trouble with those books also. If not, blame it on the progressive everything goes attitude prevalent in society. IMO, it doesn't seem the teacher had an agenda, she was just naive.

 

Beth

 

:iagree: And 20 years ago, as a childless, idealistic Social Work student, I would have been one who posted one of the supportive comments on her blog. Today, no.

 

I found the blog posts about her (the ones she linked in the article) very interesting. They do tell some of the other side. Apparently these were AP classes? The kids darn well better be able to handle the classics. I liked this quote: "Maybe in its next manifesto, the Kid's Right to Read Project could explain how the 'overall education needs of the community and its children' are served by spending valuable time on literary cotton candy in a class that's supposed to be preparing students for the greater rigors of higher education."

 

and this enlightening gem... "In the Montgomery County case, all you had was parents challenging whether books deserved a place in the curriculum of a college prep course. They weren't removed from the school library or eliminated from the readings for the reading club there. They were adjudged unfit for a place alongside Beowulf and the Canterbury Tales."

 

http://rorr.im/reddit.com/r/wtf/comments/dmzok/

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While I agree that parents have an absolute right to determine what their children are and are not allowed to read, frankly I am shocked by some of the opinions being stated here!

 

Clearly, some of you have never worked with poor and undereducated children. These kids are products of a broken system. They have not been properly challenged for years and years of education. So, no, you can't hand them a copy of Pride and Prejudice and expect them to love it or to get much out of it. Reading the classics is a process. Thankfully, most of us in this group are starting that process early and exposing our children to wonderful, quality, classic literature from a very young age. But students who aren't ready for meaty, classic material and complex language are instead turned off to books completely when they are frustrated and stunted by what they attempt to read and digest.

 

What this teacher did was try to reach the kids where they were. She found high-interest material that got them reading, and thinking, and talking about books. Their vocabularies improved, their reading abilities improved and their test scores went up. And all of a sudden they liked books.

 

The administration vilified her by not backing her up, even when she gave up her own selections in favor of board-approved selections. That is the crime here. They hung her out to dry on books that they said were age appropriate and proper for classroom use.

 

<YA librarian stepping off soap box>

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While I agree that parents have an absolute right to determine what their children are and are not allowed to read, frankly I am shocked by some of the opinions being stated here!

 

Clearly, some of you have never worked with poor and undereducated children. These kids are products of a broken system. They have not been properly challenged for years and years of education. So, no, you can't hand them a copy of Pride and Prejudice and expect them to love it or to get much out of it. Reading the classics is a process. Thankfully, most of us in this group are starting that process early and exposing our children to wonderful, quality, classic literature from a very young age. But students who aren't ready for meaty, classic material and complex language are instead turned off to books completely when they are frustrated and stunted by what they attempt to read and digest.

 

What this teacher did was try to reach the kids where they were. She found high-interest material that got them reading, and thinking, and talking about books. Their vocabularies improved, their reading abilities improved and their test scores went up. And all of a sudden they liked books.

 

The administration vilified her by not backing her up, even when she gave up her own selections in favor of board-approved selections. That is the crime here. They hung her out to dry on books that they said were age appropriate and proper for classroom use.

 

<YA librarian stepping off soap box>

 

Did you read the other articles? Because apparently she was substituting the YA books for the classics in an AP course and the kids could still read them in the book club.

 

If these students are so ill-prepared and have not been properly challenged, they shouldn't be in AP classes. One of the biggest problems I have is with this thing where she was such a great teacher and test scores improved and the kids were loving reading. Yet, when the YA books were taken away, there was apparently no transfer of that love of reading to some of the books that were on the syllabus for the class, so what's the net effect? I'm all for a love of reading but if you've got kids in a college-prep course who can't handle the college-prep books and your solution is to just sub with YA novels, how is that right or appropriate?

 

From her article, referring to class after the books were removed: "I tried to go on with my group work matrix, using only classics, but students couldn't read them without help. And that put them back into the precarious situation most of them were in before: being forced to read what they couldn't and learning to hate reading because of it. So I stopped literature circles. I stopped the group matrix completely. And I taught the old-fashioned way I'd been taught. We all hated it."

 

Sounds like someone who packed up all her toys and went home because she couldn't have her own way. There was not a single tolerable piece of interesting literature in the classics she was supposed to teach? Really? How good of a teacher could she have been?

 

This is not simply about creating book lovers. Anyone can do that. It requires no skill, only dealing out the goods that kids find inherently interesting because they can relate. This is about leading people (again, in AP classes for goodness sake!) to the good literary water through excellent teaching and effort. When it started requiring effort to bring her kids up to the level to which they should aspire, she failed them.

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I do highly agree that classics should be taught. I personally fall more in the lines of a classical homeschool style and was raised in an environment that the reading of classic literature was given heavy weight.

 

However knowing what I know about most public schools this kids are not brought up with that importance of literature and the love of reading. I have two such DSDs who hate reading so much they see it as a punishment. What I do with them is find books I would normally write off as twaddle just to get them reading and then I assign books that have real value. This way they get some of each, the "junk food" literature and the "health food" literature. It is better IMHO then them not reading at all or skimming pretending to read. Over the summer they each had to read a classic novel on their level and do a corresponding comprehension packet which I used to make sure they were actually reading the books.

 

I think that this is a perfect example of just how broken our system is. Not because we are censoring so much as because literature has fallen so badly towards the wayside that we have to intervene and lure kids in with twaddle books. Now IMHO high school is a little too late for such interventions to be made but if by chance a few students of hers gained a liking of reading enough that they in turn began reading in their free time then that is a small battle won. Those few students could now go on to read a little more and more and maybe get to a point of reading more influential books rather then YA garbage. So I agree with her to some extents but I also agree with some of the oppositional sides too. I definitely agree that parents have a right to question and disagree with book selections. I do not however think it is right to fight to have a program that is getting children to enjoy reading when they previously did not.

 

In fact one very popular required reading from back in my school days was Maya Angelo's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". If you have ever read this book it goes into pretty graphic detail of her molestation as a child. Yes this book disturbed me back then. I clearly remember going home to my mother (who was a school teacher) and telling her about what we had read in the book. We discussed the scenario, her feelings, my feelings (having gone through abuse myself) and why this was such an important part of the book. I can understand parents not wanting their children to be reading material of this nature but on the flip side I can see the benefit of exposure and a chance to discuss things that do happen regardless of their nature. I don't think that highschool is a time where children need to be sheltered so much from real world scenarios but rather be taught about them and go through the process of understanding the hows, whys and feelings.

 

Teacher's these days are under fire. They are under constant attack from all angles. They no longer have freedom in their classrooms. They no longer have the ability to help the struggling or challenge the advanced. They get paid on test scores, they get reviewed based on grades and they cannot even fail a student who puts forth no effort. Who can blame them for wanting the kids to have higher test scores? Who cannot reward the rare teachers willing to stand up to the system and try to at least make some improvement?

 

If these parents did not want their kids reading these books that is fine it is their right. The moo moo book club was just that a book club not part of the class. The literary circles I do not believe were a part of the actual class at least from my understanding. The books chosen were approved two times by two separate committees. So IMHO she was not out of line in those regards.

 

The more parents attack teachers the more the teachers will break and the more teachers that actually give a crap will resign. What will be left will be an assembly line system that pumps out carbon copy children that do not have what it takes to really and honestly succeed in this world. They will not have the skills necessary to bring our species to the next stages. Children that cannot think critically, cannot function without a helping hand as a constant and cannot break the mold much less think outside of the box. This scares the crap out of me.

 

That is all.

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While I agree that parents have an absolute right to determine what their children are and are not allowed to read, frankly I am shocked by some of the opinions being stated here!

 

Clearly, some of you have never worked with poor and undereducated children. These kids are products of a broken system. They have not been properly challenged for years and years of education. So, no, you can't hand them a copy of Pride and Prejudice and expect them to love it or to get much out of it. Reading the classics is a process. Thankfully, most of us in this group are starting that process early and exposing our children to wonderful, quality, classic literature from a very young age. But students who aren't ready for meaty, classic material and complex language are instead turned off to books completely when they are frustrated and stunted by what they attempt to read and digest.

 

What this teacher did was try to reach the kids where they were. She found high-interest material that got them reading, and thinking, and talking about books. Their vocabularies improved, their reading abilities improved and their test scores went up. And all of a sudden they liked books.

 

The administration vilified her by not backing her up, even when she gave up her own selections in favor of board-approved selections. That is the crime here. They hung her out to dry on books that they said were age appropriate and proper for classroom use.

 

<YA librarian stepping off soap box>

 

:iagree:

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I think the issue of what books she was making available to the students is somewhat beside the point.

 

This was a teacher who improved student performance and got students excited about the subject she taught. She maintains that again and again she worked within set policies and guidelines. This is not someone nefariously sneaking books in to kids. Every book she used had been approved. Despite this the whole thing seemed to start on the basis of one complaint.

 

Because the basic concern of an educational student is really not to educate but to preserve the system. This teacher, even though she was working well within the parameters of the system, rocked the boat. She got parents noticing what was happening in their school. What worse crime is there for one cog in the machine? You're supposed to keep your head low and aim for mediocrity because as soon as the parents notice what's going on, for good or ill, they might get it into their heads that the system is accountable to them.

 

I can't believe that because some might not agree with her choices in reading material for kids that they'd overlook that fact. That they'd write her off and defend what was done to her.

 

But then, even the parents were doing it to her. They were the ones writing letters to the editor and praying outside her door and accusing her of "agendas". I suppose because it's easier to villify someone then sit down and have a thoughtful discussion and nail out some compromise. that takes a bit of time. Much easier (and self-satisfying) to mutter a prayer for their soul as you pass them.

 

This makes me angry I guess. It makes me angry that people will buy that this is about censorship or about protecting kids from books. That no one will look behind the curtain and see that the real villain is the education system and it's sense of self-preservation.

 

 

I was wondering if the link was somehow sending others to a different posting. I am glad that someone else read what I read. :confused:

 

I think this sums up my entire feeling about the school system. The system is broken even when there are teachers trying to reach the kids that are inside it.

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I agree with meet me in Paris, Aoife, and in2why. Some of the significant mental and emotional growing up I did in high school was during reading, and not just the classics, but YA novels (granted, in Dutch), that grappled with real life problems and issues such as drug abuse, murder, sexual and emotional abuse, and perversion. In fact, living in another country, my Dutch teacher at the time recommended a book to me that deals with a sexually obsessed man who had sex seven times a day with his girlfriend. In my French literature, I learned about oral sex. This apparently can never happen here lol.

 

Reading about all that helped me see how sex is about self control and gave me fuel to the resolve of staying a virgin until I married. And I did. I'm glad because of that book and others that I'm not overly naive about things, but know that there's a dark side. Where better way to explore the dark side (safely) than in books? Less likely to fall into it then, if you can recognize it.

 

In my community, quite a few times I see poignant homeschooled kids who were protected and sheltered, raised on the Bible, who ran into trouble, whether with drugs, sex or alcohol, because they didn't have any frame of reference, no comparison, no ammunition against them. I certainly do not believe hs kids should be only reading YA novels, but I do believe there should be a good balance between classics and contemporary novels - classics 70%, YA 30% IMHO. These books need to be discussed. In my little homeschool, with me.

 

Another Dutch teacher told me once, that reading is an exercise in knowing yourself. I think he was right.

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Yes, YA books have their place. However, that place is not in an AP English, college-prep class. The literature circles were part of class time and by her own admission, she avoided the classics and was only forced to use them when they took her own YA selections away. She has apparently also deliberately avoided mentioning the fact that she was teaching AP classes. Gee, I wonder why.

 

From http://vereloqui.blogspot.com/:

 

In her post she characterizes herself as a champion for reading. But let's put this whole issue back into the perspective of what actually happened. First of all the course that was the subject of the news stories was, and I'll emphasize this for those of her fans who keep obfuscating it: AN ACCELERATED COLLEGE PREPARATORY COURSE. The issue was not whether kids should be encouraged to read through creative approaches to teaching or whether kids should read young adult fiction on theIR own time or in some minor capacity in school. The issue was whether pop teen fiction should be the focus of reading in an ACCELERATED COLLEGE PREPARATORY COURSE.

 

It is interesting that nowhere in Mullins account does she mention the exact nature of the course for which she was criticized for including young adult fiction.

 

The argument in my original post was that advanced college preparatory courses should focus on advanced college preparatory material. Pop teen fiction is not advanced college preparatory material. Therefore it shouldn't be the focus of an advanced college preparatory course. No one ever responded to my argument: they simply went on about how they liked young adult fiction and how isn't it great how it gets kids to read and this poor teacher was persecuted and on and on and on.

 

Folks, get a grip on your emotions. I realize that rampant, uncontrolled emotions may constitute great teen reading, but let's focus on the issue. And the issue is whether, in the limited amount of time a school has to spend on advanced college preparation the time is best spent on popular books for young adults or whether the time could be spent better using classic literature--you know, the kind they will encounter in college.

 

The fact that teens can get excited about reading teen fiction is great. Now can we spend the energy getting them excited about great literature? This is the question, however it may be obfuscated by those who champion, as Mullins does, young adult literature.

For the book club, I have no problem with modern YA selections. If the parents don't like them, they don't have to let their kids participate. Even in class, I think a few of the books wouldn't be too bad. But, I say again, for her to replace the classic literature that was supposed to be taught with predominantly YA selections is irresponsible to the population she was entrusted to serve. And I also say again, if she was such a great teacher, why didn't any of the supposed advances her students made with YA books transfer?! That is the most ridiculous thing of all to me.

 

I searched and searched for the other side but you won't read it. Administrators don't seem to have blogs out there where they wear their hearts on their sleeve as they rail against the other side. I would love to have been able to read it though. It did seem to be handled badly but I wonder what really happened; the truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle. In the beginning of her post, she talks about how the principal was so proud to have her on board and went around introducing her by her credentials. I wonder if he didn't just hand over too much power and choice because of that and live to regret it. I wonder if the parents who initially complained were not necessarily upset about the content of the books but upset that the AP class wasn't fulfilling its responsibility to prepare the kids for college-level work. I wonder if some of the kids in the class were upset because they went to class expecting the content they signed up for and instead were given YA books to read (that would have been me back then). Maybe it was a few out of the whole class. Maybe the rest of the class just loved it because the content was more interesting to them. Does that matter? It still wasn't the class they signed up for, the one that was meant to prepare them for college.

 

Rambling now... The thing is we won't know. I haven't heard anyone in this thread rail against YA books. I mentioned that I looked up a few of the titles she mentioned and that I wasn't impressed. But I don't have a list of all her titles and I'm sure many of them are wonderful. Again, it's not really the point. Maybe there should be a class on YA lit. Maybe that's a great idea, just the ticket, and people would sign up in droves. Maybe, just like for some of us who are working through the Well-Educated Mind, they could work on baby steps toward the classics. Still, I think the point here is being missed by a mile.

 

A little candor on her part about the nature of the class she was teaching would have led to less controversy and probably a great deal more of, "Oh. Well, that makes sense."

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I agree with meet me in Paris, Aoife, and in2why. Some of the significant mental and emotional growing up I did in high school was during reading, and not just the classics, but YA novels (granted, in Dutch), that grappled with real life problems and issues such as drug abuse, murder, sexual and emotional abuse, and perversion. In fact, living in another country, my Dutch teacher at the time recommended a book to me that deals with a sexually obsessed man who had sex seven times a day with his girlfriend. In my French literature, I learned about oral sex. This apparently can never happen here lol.

 

Reading about all that helped me see how sex is about self control and gave me fuel to the resolve of staying a virgin until I married. And I did. I'm glad because of that book and others that I'm not overly naive about things, but know that there's a dark side. Where better way to explore the dark side (safely) than in books? Less likely to fall into it then, if you can recognize it.

 

In my community, quite a few times I see poignant homeschooled kids who were protected and sheltered, raised on the Bible, who ran into trouble, whether with drugs, sex or alcohol, because they didn't have any frame of reference, no comparison, no ammunition against them. I certainly do not believe hs kids should be only reading YA novels, but I do believe there should be a good balance between classics and contemporary novels - classics 70%, YA 30% IMHO. These books need to be discussed. In my little homeschool, with me.

 

Another Dutch teacher told me once, that reading is an exercise in knowing yourself. I think he was right.

 

 

Well, I am certainly no prude, don't teach Bible, don't attend Church, and don't in any way shelter my kids from sex, violence, or any other "real" world situations.

 

BUT - there is no way my son is going to read books about the topics you listed above for school. While I realize that one person's trash is another person's treasure, books about sexual perversion are my version of trash. In fact - I think my son would demand an explanation as to why I was asking him to read such a book and then refuse.

 

I think it's great that the Dutch are so sexually progressive, but me - I'm happy being selective in my children's literature - and compared to many homeschool parents I am not very conservative at all.

 

What would happen in the Netherlands if a parent objected to those selections at school? Would they have some recourse? Or are the children expected to all read the same books regardless of the parent's ideas about these topics?

 

I hear this argument about "preparing kids for the real world" with these adult topics but I ask you - wouldn't you rather your child never entered the real world of sexual abuse -thus ensuring that the fictional world the teachers were requiring them to read about are not necessary?

 

I prefer the line of thought that exposure to fictional heinous acts, sexual abuse, or the like are not in any way required to be a well adjusted adult. In fact, if this exposure is administered too early it can actually hinder their acclimation into a positive adult life.

 

I would definitely be the mother who objected to this teacher's selections and I'm glad the school district has her in check. She sounds a bit emotionally unstable as well - with her little internet pity party. :glare:

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"In her post she characterizes herself as a champion for reading. But let's put this whole issue back into the perspective of what actually happened. First of all the course that was the subject of the news stories was, and I'll emphasize this for those of her fans who keep obfuscating it: AN ACCELERATED COLLEGE PREPARATORY COURSE. The issue was not whether kids should be encouraged to read through creative approaches to teaching or whether kids should read young adult fiction on theIR own time or in some minor capacity in school. The issue was whether pop teen fiction should be the focus of reading in an ACCELERATED COLLEGE PREPARATORY COURSE.

 

I forgot to say I was in a school within one of the best educational systems in the world (Dutch) and all the American universities recruiting us described the last two years of our schooling as "college preparatory". It resembles an IB program, which is equivalent, to my knowledge, to an AP program.

 

You know? I don't know if the parents would object. I don't think we even had a system where the parents knew exactly what the children were reading. It certainly was different when I was growing up. Our school was considered a Catholic church too, but only in name. We had a religion class, but it presented all religions uniformly. 90%+ of my country is Roman Catholic, though.

 

I'm not saying I would give my kid those books to read, but if he encountered them in his reading (it would be free reading to me, not in school time), I would make it a point to discuss them with him. I agree that only YA books and not classics is not right. As I said earlier, 70%-30% classic to YA ratio would be fine. And in this country, parents do need to know what their kids are reading -- to discuss the books with them, not try to ban them from the school reading list IMHO (if the list is balanced with more classics - oxymoron here he).

 

BTW, Alta Veste, I never realized that your signature articulates exactly what we're doing in our little school -- Combining Charlotte Mason, WTM and Inquiry :)

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Some of the significant mental and emotional growing up I did in high school was during reading, and not just the classics, but YA novels

 

I forgot to say I was in a school within one of the best educational systems in the world (Dutch) and all the American universities recruiting us described the last two years of our schooling as "college preparatory". It resembles an IB program, which is equivalent, to my knowledge, to an AP program.

 

Yes, you also said some. I assume some YA books means that you could read, understand, and discuss classic literature as well. As she said herself, when the YA books were taken away, the kids couldn't handle the classics. Was that also your experience? I doubt it, as that is the point of college-prep, AP English classes. If those skills her pupils had supposedly acquired while immersing themselves in YA fiction had transferred, I might have more respect for her teaching.

 

Again, I don't have a blanket problem with YA books. I have a problem with teachers who skirt the problem of AP students who are seemingly unable to handle classics.

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I'm not saying I would give my kid those books to read, but if he encountered them in his reading (it would be free reading to me, not in school time), I would make it a point to discuss them with him. I agree that only YA books and not classics is not right. As I said earlier, 70%-30% classic to YA ratio would be fine. And in this country, parents do need to know what their kids are reading -- to discuss the books with them, not try to ban them from the school reading list IMO (if the list is balanced with more classics - oxymoron here he).

 

:lol: You were editing while I was posting. Then, we agree. :D

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I have a problem with teachers who skirt the problem of AP students who are seemingly unable to handle classics.

 

I agree with you there. I just think there should be both YA and classics, with a lot heavier on the classics.

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Again, I don't have a blanket problem with YA books. I have a problem with teachers who skirt the problem of AP students who are seemingly unable to handle classics.

 

I know a graduated child (last year) who had to read THE SCARLETT LETTER for her PS HS course and STRUGGLED through it like nothing I've ever seen. I was entirely embarrassing to watch. I have yet to meet a PS HS child whose reading and comprehension are actually worthy of an AP course.

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Well, I am certainly no prude, don't teach Bible, don't attend Church, and don't in any way shelter my kids from sex, violence, or any other "real" world situations.

 

BUT - there is no way my son is going to read books about the topics you listed above for school. While I realize that one person's trash is another person's treasure, books about sexual perversion are my version of trash. In fact - I think my son would demand an explanation as to why I was asking him to read such a book and then refuse.

 

I think it's great that the Dutch are so sexually progressive, but me - I'm happy being selective in my children's literature - and compared to many homeschool parents I am not very conservative at all.

 

What would happen in the Netherlands if a parent objected to those selections at school? Would they have some recourse? Or are the children expected to all read the same books regardless of the parent's ideas about these topics?

 

I hear this argument about "preparing kids for the real world" with these adult topics but I ask you - wouldn't you rather your child never entered the real world of sexual abuse -thus ensuring that the fictional world the teachers were requiring them to read about are not necessary?

 

I prefer the line of thought that exposure to fictional heinous acts, sexual abuse, or the like are not in any way required to be a well adjusted adult. In fact, if this exposure is administered too early it can actually hinder their acclimation into a positive adult life.

 

I would definitely be the mother who objected to this teacher's selections and I'm glad the school district has her in check. She sounds a bit emotionally unstable as well - with her little internet pity party. :glare:

 

 

I guess we could go back to the days where sexual abuse and perversion was never discussed. I know when I was raped by a friends father at the age of 8 I didn't tell anyone because I had never heard that such a thing was possible, and bought hook line and sinker that it was my fault it happened, and that if I ever told anyone that he would kill me and my family. I believed it because I couldn't imagine that his murdering us all could be any worse then what he DID do.

When I was a child we were kept innocent too. Too bad that my innocence was shattered and I didn't even have a name for what had happened to me until I was an adult. Oh as an aside....he was the deacon of our Church and a father of 4 children.

 

I have grown children now and I am glad that my daughter read about abusive relationships so that she could recognize them before she was in one, and that my sons read about date rape so that they knew that no means no, maybe means no, and yes means are you absolutely sure. Books in their gritty realness can be better conversation starters then TV and much better than waiting until after something horrible happens to become a life lesson.

 

The sad thing is that the same children she was teaching had probably experienced some of the things that were in those books, and the books allowed them to process it, or question what if, if they themselves had to face something like it.

I also believe that most classics were considered racy in their time and even today To Kill a Mockingbird, and Huck Finn are on the challenged book lists.

But even for an AP class, if it is not a whitebread neighborhood I can see how using an interesting YA book in place of the classics have value. If the kids aren't reading the classic, how do you truly have a discussion about literary themes? I guess they could skim and get the cliff notes like a lot of AP kids do?

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In2why, I'm so, so sorry :grouphug: Unfortunately, I think our teens need to be exposed and are emotionally ready/mature for the gritty reality of human vices. "Know Thy Enemy" is the way I see it too. We are reading Pinocchio now (ds is 7) and I like how it teaches children, in an age-appropriate way, about the evils of the world (in a gentle way, I think, using animals and puppets instead of people).

 

However, to each his own, obviously. I don't think standardizing this or any other book list is the answer either. At the same time, this is part of giving your children away to the public school to teach. You don't have as much control. This is only one of the reasons why we homeschool, but it's an important one.

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I know a graduated child (last year) who had to read THE SCARLETT LETTER for her PS HS course and STRUGGLED through it like nothing I've ever seen. I was entirely embarrassing to watch. I have yet to meet a PS HS child whose reading and comprehension are actually worthy of an AP course.

 

In my high school (20 years ago), we read Things Fall Apart, The Bluest Eye, One Hundred years of Solitude, Snow Country and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore for a survey of World Literature class (we received 3 college credit hours). It was hard work, but those works really stayed with me. My school was in an upper middle class part of town, but it wasn't even in the top 10 in our city. I have a hard time believing that the kids bright enough for an AP class couldn't handle classics. Classics don't need to be two hundred years old but if a college-bound kid can't read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried--one has to worry.

 

BTW, even in 1990, I had literature circles where one student was assigned to lead the discussion and the teacher only interrupted if the conversation got off course. We were graded on participation in the circles and on moderating so we can't assume that the literature circles were extra-curricular.

 

Christine

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In my high school (20 years ago), we read Things Fall Apart, The Bluest Eye, One Hundred years of Solitude, Snow Country and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore for a survey of World Literature class (we received 3 college credit hours). It was hard work, but those works really stayed with me. My school was in an upper middle class part of town, but it wasn't even in the top 10 in our city. I have a hard time believing that the kids bright enough for an AP class couldn't handle classics. Classics don't need to be two hundred years old but if a college-bound kid can't read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried--one has to worry.

 

BTW, even in 1990, I had literature circles where one student was assigned to lead the discussion and the teacher only interrupted if the conversation got off course. We were graded on participation in the circles and on moderating so we can't assume that the literature circles were extra-curricular.

 

Christine

 

Man, I posted and ran. It was entirely embarrassing....I meant to say

 

Anywho, that class of hers WAS an AP course, which I forgot to add in and why I was appalled and why I have serious doubts about the current AP qualifications. The Scarlett Letter? And her not 'getting' it? What is there not to get? :confused: Unless it's taught in a complete and total vacuum of history, that's about as easy as it gets.

 

Well, the OP article says it was an extra curric reading group, and, personally, I think classics should be tackled in HS, too.

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Also, something like this happened recently with the YA book SPEAK, about sexual abuse and empowers kids to speak up when they are victims, but a man wanted it banned because he believed it was pornographic. meaning sexual abuse=porn. Um. No.

 

http://madwomanintheforest.com/this-guy-thinks-speak-is-pornography/

 

http://madwomanintheforest.com/you-speak-loudly-i-love-mick-foley/

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In my high school (20 years ago), we read Things Fall Apart, The Bluest Eye, One Hundred years of Solitude, Snow Country and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore for a survey of World Literature class (we received 3 college credit hours). It was hard work, but those works really stayed with me. My school was in an upper middle class part of town, but it wasn't even in the top 10 in our city. I have a hard time believing that the kids bright enough for an AP class couldn't handle classics. Classics don't need to be two hundred years old but if a college-bound kid can't read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried--one has to worry.

 

:iagree:In my AP English class from 1989-90, we read Beowulf, Grendel, Hamlet, Macbeth, Siddhartha, The Canterbury Tales, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gulliver's Travels, 1984, Emerson's Self-Reliance, Melville's short stories, poetry by Emily Dickinson, William Blake, Shakespeare, etc... That's what I remember. There are kids out there capable of handling the material.

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Yes, YA books have their place. However, that place is not in an AP English, college-prep class. The literature circles were part of class time and by her own admission, she avoided the classics and was only forced to use them when they took her own YA selections away. She has apparently also deliberately avoided mentioning the fact that she was teaching AP classes. Gee, I wonder why.

 

From http://vereloqui.blogspot.com/:

 

 

I can see both sides so I'm not disagreeing with the gist of what you're saying and I did read the vereloqui blog before I even saw your post. We ought to note that the teacher did say, "And I’m remembering how just last week I cried again, selfishly, when I allowed myself to consider all the horrible things people were probably saying about me and my “pornographic†literature and what it did to their precious test scores and how YA is nothing but fluff and has no place in a college-bound curriculum."

 

So maybe she could have been more explicit about the nature of the class but I'm not sure in her emotional rant she was necessarily trying to hide anything, either.

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I don't think you can say that a mention of sex or violence is immediately wrong, or that a book with sex or other themes will automatically be worthy because it opens conversations or allows processing. It really depends on the individual book. Some books deal with difficult themes well, some books are gratuitously graphic in order to sell.

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Putting aside the issues about the AP classes and so forth (which are an educational issue and less of a censorship one, I would agree - and I would agree that the books on her list, regardless of their merits, don't belong on an AP lit reading list)...

 

Maybe I have a different perspective on this than others, but to me, there's a strange balance that has to be struck between the school, which is an instrument of the government and therefore should be very reluctant to censor, and the parents who might not want these books. I think my feeling is that if you send your children to a government school, then obviously you don't abdicate your right to make decisions about their education, however, you have to accept that the government can make decisions about curriculum and that the government must abide by the first amendment as it applies to schools. If you don't like that, then your choice is to remove your child from government schools or try to have the curriculum changed through the political process - activism or electoral process. I personally don't believe the books should be removed from a library or an extracurricular group under any circumstance. I also defend the idea that the first amendment has a strong place within the government schools. I have never been able to accept the idea that the Bill of Rights shouldn't apply to minors when the government is involved to the fullest extent logistically possible.

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I can still remember one particular book that was a 'have to read' for my AP English class. It was graphic, shocking and disgusting. With all the really excellent literature out there, I wonder why are these teachers choosing books like this (I'm refering to the book I had to read, since I haven' t read any of these that teacher listed). I'm glad we can homeschool!

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I guess we could go back to the days where sexual abuse and perversion was never discussed. I know when I was raped by a friends father at the age of 8 I didn't tell anyone because I had never heard that such a thing was possible, and bought hook line and sinker that it was my fault it happened, and that if I ever told anyone that he would kill me and my family. I believed it because I couldn't imagine that his murdering us all could be any worse then what he DID do.

When I was a child we were kept innocent too. Too bad that my innocence was shattered and I didn't even have a name for what had happened to me until I was an adult. Oh as an aside....he was the deacon of our Church and a father of 4 children.

 

I have grown children now and I am glad that my daughter read about abusive relationships so that she could recognize them before she was in one, and that my sons read about date rape so that they knew that no means no, maybe means no, and yes means are you absolutely sure. Books in their gritty realness can be better conversation starters then TV and much better than waiting until after something horrible happens to become a life lesson.

 

The sad thing is that the same children she was teaching had probably experienced some of the things that were in those books, and the books allowed them to process it, or question what if, if they themselves had to face something like it.

I also believe that most classics were considered racy in their time and even today To Kill a Mockingbird, and Huck Finn are on the challenged book lists.

But even for an AP class, if it is not a whitebread neighborhood I can see how using an interesting YA book in place of the classics have value. If the kids aren't reading the classic, how do you truly have a discussion about literary themes? I guess they could skim and get the cliff notes like a lot of AP kids do?

 

Sorry - most teen boys don't need to read a fictional story to understand not to rape their girlfriends. And whitebread neighborhood? This disturbs me. If the children are non-white then it is OK to expose them to these books but it is not OK to exposed them to those who ARE white?

 

You're telling me that there aren't hundreds of books that could fit the bill (create interest, discuss literary themes, be exciting, explore relationships with language which does not involve sexually explicit verbiage) that would not have been a better choice? I'm sorry - that teacher must be pretty dull if she can't get a kid interested in reading books without using those about sex - abusive or otherwise. I'm mean - that is just laughable.

 

I never said we should go back to never talking about sexual abuse. My point that you highlighted was meant towards teens, not small children. It is important to talk to kids about what is and isn't appropriate but having your teens read books about oral sex, children abusing children, and other topics is in no way necessary to either prevent or discover abuse.

 

And just to clarify - when did it become the job of a literature teacher to take on the psychological health of students? Perhaps a student was exposed to sexual abuse as described in the book - perhaps it caused them to fall into a depression or worse? The thought that exposing these evil things is always a "good or productive thing" is naive. Bringing up this type of emotional trauma has serious consequences that she is ill-equipped to handle as a literature teacher and that is why it is not her job.

 

I think she had good intentions, that she didn't think through her decisions (or perhaps felt it was her place to shape these young adults in the way SHE felt best and not their parents) and then had a hard time dealing with the consequences of her mistake, thus deciding to blame everyone but herself via a very public blog. It's a big character flaw in my opinion, that she took this story to the depths she did, while refusing to admit she brought it on herself.

 

Her job is to teach LITERATURE. If she wants to psychoanalyze school children and search their psyche for potential abuse (and I don't think she does - that was your take on her situation) she should have become a school psychologist.

 

Moreover - it is her job to teach literature in a way which is acceptable to the parents of the students so she should suck it up, regroup, perhaps talk to a therapist (because she sounds like she REALLY needs one) and move on with what the parents, school, and principal want her to do.

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