Sunday, November 16, 2008

Morality or Censorship

This will be controversial, but I want honest thoughts from my friends here.

From my paper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, comes a controversy that as a parent of a High Schooler, is vitally important to me.

"FORT WALTON BEACH - A book about struggle, redemption and coming of age in Afghanistan is under fire in the Okaloosa County School District by a parent concerned about the novel's "mature content."

Laura Stovall submitted a Request for Reconsideration of Educational Materials to the school district after learning that "Kite Runner," written by Khaled Hosseini, would be used in Choctawhatchee High School's International Baccalaureate program. She also read the book before asking for reconsideration."

We have two High Schools here in Ft Walton Beach. BOTH of them are listed in the top 1000 High Schools in the country. We have a huge military presence here and most kids come from families that deal with the realities in the Middle East on a daily basis.

Added to that, this is a baccalaureate program.

That means, these kids are getting college credits for this HS class.

That's the history, now the point:

My freshman in college Lit 101 reading list included:

The Canterbury Tales. My English Lit professor referred to the Lady of Bath in the story. His comment: "Listen People, you are just not getting it! What Chaucer is saying is that he picked her up like a BOWLING BALL!"

The Decameron: By Giovanni Boccaccio. Ribald tales that included gardeners pretending to be mute, deaf and dumb to get it on with the nuns in a nunnery. A priest who ravages his confessionals.


Or not.

How many of you remember The Catcher in the Rye"? That was commanded reading in my VERY Catholic ALL GIRLS boarding school!

What did my lit professor and the School Sisters of Notre Dame know, that this parent just doesn't get?

There is graphic text in literature. Even in revered literature. And understanding it, and applying it to life is why it's taught.

Ashely doesn't attend Choctaw HS, she is at it's rival, Fort Walton Beach High School ( GO VIKINGS) . At her school, this book; Kite Runner, is required reading for the SOPHOMORE class.

It's a beautiful book. It has some very difficult chapters, some more graphic than I would like, but it is a true depiction of life in the Middle East. It is well written, truly enthralling, and has been compared to To Kill a of my personal favorites of all time.

Life lessons are not easy. Sometimes they involve graphic, harsh words. Sometimes they are flowery, like Shakespeare's or Chaucer's. Sometimes they are in your face like J.D Salinger's.

Sometimes harsh life is romanticized like in the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or even Le Miserable, by Victor Hugo.

I believe that this parent's argument is a pure and unadulterated attempt at censorship. Her child has the option to opt out of the class, or to read other material. But that isn't really the point, is it?

These days, High Schools are treacherous ground. Our kids know more, and talk about subjects, that would make us cringe. BUT......

If we speak openly and honestly with our children, tell them that what they see IS out there, but we EXPECT them to rise above it...........

Make clear what we believe, what we live, what we choose to achieve.....they will not be swayed by the harsh rap lyrics, or even by this beautifully written book.

What do you guys think?


Anonymous said...

maybe you should run for school committee... lol
Ya seem to have a handle on educating common wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I think IB is dangerous because its sole purpose is to ready children to be global citizens under the world government as envisioned and run by the United Nations, the most evil organization in the world. clearly states their mission.

It is being fought everywhere because of this.

hippo chick said...

I haven't read the book, so can't really comment. I think that if it were me and I really objected to the book, I would discuss it openly with my child. As a senior in high school, they have to be ready to make some of their own decisions.

This parent has the choice to either let the child read the book or not.

As a former librarian, I have to stand on the side of non-censorship.

Does any of this make sense? Now, I plan to read the book. I still feel Holden Cauldfield's pain.

~hippo hugs~

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michelle said...

Anonymous, I deleted your post for two reasons:
1) you made the same allegations once before and

2) I don't believe in conspiracy theories.

I meant for this post to be a thought provoker and I expected intelligent discussion on the matter. I don't agree with extremism in any form, left leaning, or right.

If you'd like to offer more than the "boogey men are out to get the kids" I will be glad to read your comments.

Anonymous said...

Until recently, censorship has always existed in the USA without the "book burning and witch hunts" analogous to Nazi Germany.

At one time, the method of teaching included the Kohlberg/Piaget theories on the stages of moral developmen. We began with the "inductive", and ended with the "deductive". However, today, the "inductive" (or the foundation, if you will) is eliminated and the child goes right to the deductive. Many Public libraries have sexual "how to's" on the shelves for the 6-9 year olds and the 8-12 year olds, including what would be considered pornography in detailed cartoon graphics.

As witnessed in advertising, the visual and the written word are both powerful! So unless a child has a foundation upon which to base philosphical decisions, theses things become indoctrination rather than education (as evidenced by the philosophies, in huge percentages, held by today's teens and young adults. In my opinion, part of the indoctrination comes from the American Library Association, which believes that "a child has the right to read 'anything' he/she wants to read."
From a parent who believes in censorship regarding children especially in school recommended reading, which puts a seal of approval upon what is considered literature, and especially when our tax dollars are going toward reading material which could be purchased at any adult book store if the parent chooses to have his/her child exposed to this.

Nancy said...

All I have to say is that I am glad I raised my kids years ago! Things have sure changed since then.

Good to see you posting again!

(((((( HUGS ))))))