Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Sad Thought

I'm currently doing 30 days of Mark Twain quotes. That's got me thinking back to all of the hours I had reading his novels when I was a kid.  Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court were all my favorites by the time I was 10.

I realized the other day that Girlie Bear hadn't read them yet, much to my shame as a parent.  I'm ordering copies for her, so that issue will be rectified shortly.

But can I send her to school with them?  The books have been dropped from the curriculum of most schools because of a misconception that they promote negative stereotypes of African-Americans, even though one of the heroes of the books, Jim, is just as intelligent, good-hearted, and admirable as Tom and Huck.  Junior read them in school, but he went to a private, religious elementary school.  When the principal has John Birch bumper sticker on his car, you know it's not exactly a politically correct place.  Girlie Bear is going to a public school in a racially charged, very politically correct school district.

I'm ashamed to say I don't know if I ought to.  She has every right to read them, enjoy them, and learn from the lessons.  But is it better to spare her the potential problems from teachers and probable problems from other students and tell her to leave those books at home?  Or would that teach a lesson that some things, no matter how good for you they are, ought not to be done publicly?  Should I let the indoctrinated ignorance of other students and parents, the fear of the teachers, and the potential for social and physical harassment keep her from freely enjoying American classics?

Honestly, I'm in a quandary here.  If I tell her it's OK to take them to school and read them there, I run the risk of her getting in trouble with teachers and being labelled a racist by other students who don't know any better.  If I tell her to read them at home, I run the risk of teaching her to keep such things to herself as if reading a good book with a controversial aspect to it was something to be ashamed of.

The thing that galls me here is that I gave her The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill a Mockingbird, and no-one batted an eye.

I'd appreciate y'alls thoughts on this one.


TinCan Assassin said...

Ok, you are the primary educator of your child. If the school objects, tell them to buy a copy of the book and shove it where the sun don't shine so they can read it too. The school does not own your kid's brain, and you need to fill it with opposing viewpoints, and logical and critical thinking skills, because she sure as hell won't get it there. You'll have cause to be proud when your daughter's teachers call you in because your daughter had the audacity to argue an opposing viewpoint. Remember, as the Taxpayer, you are the boss.

Chasing Freedom said...

This may sound odd, but is she old enough to make the decision herself when given possible outcomes? I know that in 5th/6th grade I was aware certain books would result in teasing so I either didn't take them or covered them up. It wasn't because I thought the books were bad but because I knew other students were cruel idiots. FWIW, I'd start with the least objectionable book and test the waters.

maddmedic said...

TinCan Assassin pretty much says it.
But then I have been at war with the school system and what I allowed them to do to my eldest..
Do it.
Just do it and let her decide..
Is called Freedom...something the school will try to teach out of her...

DaddyBear said...

Don't get me wrong. She's going to read the books, if she chooses to, and I think she will. She loves to read, and Twain is probably one of the easiest authors to read that I ever encountered.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Or, if it goes that direction, do as so many people in my twisted state have been forced into: home schooling.

Things like this, and others, make me glad I never had kids and that I never had to throw them into any kind of Fornicalia public educational venue. I'm old enough that when I was in public school in the 50s and 60s, I actually acquired an education, to the point that any education I further acquired was only because I was sufficiently motivated to pay for it myself.

In Fornicalia, as the Taxpayer, NO, you are NOT the boss. Liberal GOWP "educators" are the bosses; you are merely a kind of ignorant "end user."

Unless, of course, you're Mexican or black or Asian. Then you take it because you've been told its best.

No matter: "educators" ALWAYS know better than YOU do.


DaddyBear said...

BZ, if home schooling was an option we could take, we would. However, she's getting a good education at the school she's at and the high school will be good too.

Nancy R. said...

I agree with Chasing Freedom. Explain the pros and cons, and let her chose. Put a cover on the book if you want to tone it down.

Auntie J said...

These are classic works, that eloquently speak of the times in which they were written.

Most of the teachers know that.

And most of them are too afraid of getting the district sued to say anything about how Twain and his brilliance with the vernacular is actually an excellent teaching tool, and that the words they find so objectionable were commonplace in Twain's day. All they see is the potential for someone to sue the district because somebody had a conniption over Twain's choice of words.

Let her read them.

Let her choose whether or not she wants to take them to school.

And give the teachers an earful if they question it.

And I'm the daughter of a teacher who wouldn't object to those books. (Then again, my mom also taught first grade. Take it for what you will.)

Shepherd K said...

I don't think the school can stop you or her from bringing them to school. That would be a first amendment violation. Not that violating the Constitution seems to matter too much to people in authority these days.

BTW, I got some blog bling for you over at my place if you are interested.

Julie said...

I'm with "Chasing Freedom" and "Nancy R". Explain the situation, pros & cons and ask her what she wants to do.

She can then make the decision knowing the possible outcomes and if she decides to take them to school help arm her with possible come-backs to negative comments.

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