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CensorshipHave any teachers out there had a problem with teaching certain works of...

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 4, 2010 at 2:03 PM via web

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Censorship

Have any teachers out there had a problem with teaching certain works of literature by their school's administration? I was reprimanded for teaching Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby despite the teaching of the historical background.

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pippin1313 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:13 PM (Answer #2)

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I've had issues teaching texts that are not in keeping with religious doctrine while teaching at a Catholic school. I've found that the issues come more from the parents than from any administration. 

In saying that, I have taught A Clockwork Orange before and no one had an issue with that.

What's that saying about being doomed to repeat history?? Seems appropriate here.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 4, 2010 at 8:58 PM (Answer #3)

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When I was a senior in high school, I enjoyed the thrill of reading Catch-22 in class--complete with the sex and language. No problems with the administration. As a teacher at a middle school, however, I was harshly reprimanded for showing the wonderful fairy tale, The Princess Bride (because of the one use of SOB). One administrator was liberal-minded who allowed his teachers the freedom to choose their subject matter; the other was a conservative, close-minded old crone who saw only the one bad word and not the story as a whole. Guess which one I despised?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:05 PM (Answer #4)

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Incidents that I have seen first hand have come from parents as well.  In the case I'm thinking of, a parent complained and the teacher offered an alternative novel for the child to read.  Echoing pippin1313, though, the issue was raised by the parent, not by the administration.

I'm wondering if the administration mentioned in post #1 consulted the rest of the English department, or if there was any discussion at all.  I would hate to work for an administration that reprimanded a teacher in this way on its own. 

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 5, 2010 at 6:20 AM (Answer #5)

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Incidents that I have seen first hand have come from parents as well.  In the case I'm thinking of, a parent complained and the teacher offered an alternative novel for the child to read.  Echoing pippin1313, though, the issue was raised by the parent, not by the administration.

I'm wondering if the administration mentioned in post #1 consulted the rest of the English department, or if there was any discussion at all.  I would hate to work for an administration that reprimanded a teacher in this way on its own. 

The administration did not talk to any other English teacher. It was one parent, supposedly an educated woman whose husband was a lawyer, that started the whole issue. I e-mailed the parent several times with my rationale for teaching this folk tale. It was like talking to a brick wall. Later on, that same parent refused to allow her younger child to be in my class. Since I was the only 6th grade teacher of gifted language arts, her daughter's educational needs were slighted. Oh, well.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:14 AM (Answer #6)

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I teach high school, so I think in terms of high school students.  I didn't realize we were talking about 6th graders.  I haven't read Tar Baby, but I've read Beloved and Song of Solomon.  Are we talking about Toni Morrison's Tar Baby?  If it's anything like the other Morrison novels I've read, I can see where you had trouble teaching it to 6th graders.

That doesn't negate the fact that an administration should have a consensus before making a decision, however.  But I sure wouldn't teach Beloved to 6th graders.

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 5, 2010 at 4:57 PM (Answer #7)

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I teach high school, so I think in terms of high school students.  I didn't realize we were talking about 6th graders.  I haven't read Tar Baby, but I've read Beloved and Song of Solomon.  Are we talking about Toni Morrison's Tar Baby?  If it's anything like the other Morrison novels I've read, I can see where you had trouble teaching it to 6th graders.

That doesn't negate the fact that an administration should have a consensus before making a decision, however.  But I sure wouldn't teach Beloved to 6th graders.

It was Uncle Remus's Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, a standard when I grew up, but misinterpreted by many. It was also a Georgia author, and I teach in Georgia.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 5, 2010 at 6:40 PM (Answer #8)

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Sorry.  I'm an idiot! I teach high school seniors, and I've never heard of that book.  I thought you were talking about two separate books.  I am way out of my area here!  I'll shut up now. 

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted March 6, 2010 at 7:39 AM (Answer #9)

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I would only teach pre-approved texts. Teaching others or ones not in the approved curriculum is a battle that should not be started and the time it takes to wage one can better be spent on other things. It can take up too much of your time spent on more productive things.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 6, 2010 at 9:11 AM (Answer #10)

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This is an interesting question.  Since I taught in Catholic High Schools for a long time, we didn't have a "list" --- we were pretty much on our own.  The only book I ever got any grief over, and this was from parents, not administrators, was a Dan Brown Book, Digital Fortress.  There was some "stuff" in the book that was so trivially objectionable that I didn't even see it as I read the book (probably tells you a lot about me and our world).  It was from a very limited group of parents, but I decided that the book wasn't worth the effort, and we switched to another book next term. 

What I will pass along as interesting is that I am now teaching in a Baptist University, and in an on-line course got some grief about "In the Lake of the Woods" from adults.  It has some pretty raw language, especially the "kill Jesus" lines, but taken from whom they came and his mental state, it didn't seem like that big a deal to me.  I just told the people who had a problem with the book to stop reading and assigned them another book. This time I stuck with the book ... it's too good and appreciated by too many other students to make a change.  But I thought that you might be interesting in book "problems" beyond High School ... helps to know your audience.

 

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 8, 2010 at 6:08 AM (Answer #11)

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Sorry.  I'm an idiot! I teach high school seniors, and I've never heard of that book.  I thought you were talking about two separate books.  I am way out of my area here!  I'll shut up now. 

No problem- I didn't even know about the other works you were referring to at first! If you aren't a Southerner, you may not even know the Uncle Remus stories, which supposedly taught lessons to slaves and poked fun at their owners.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:06 PM (Answer #12)

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Definitely I have not been allowed to teach certain novels that I would have loved to have taught because of the Christian views of the establishments where I work. These include works such as Harry Potter, The Colour Purple and Handmaid's Tale. It does kind of worry me as I feel that by preventing the study and reading of these texts we are not allowed to discuss the issues that are raised in these excellent works of literature.

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