The big focus in American education from the 1960s through the present was why children can't read (something I attribute to the new educational approach that abandoned the wonderful logic of phonics). Now, though, for parents hewing to traditional morals who have kids trapped in public schools, the question becomes, "Why should my child read this drek?"
Zabrina, of Thought You'd Never Ask, tackles this in a three part series called Great Literature in the Public Schools (part three has yet to be published). In Part One, she details her unsuccessful efforts to protect her 9th Grader from reading a book larded with profanity and violent images. In Part Two, she tackles similar material (with an emphasis on raunchy language, not violence) that her 4th grader is reading in school (and that the teacher is reading aloud to the students).
It sounds as if Zabrina's children are sufficiently mature, sweet and innocent to learn from, without being affected by, such materials, but that doesn't change what I take to be Zabrina's point: Why are we using our public schools to teach down instead of up (up being more inspirational material)?
True, all teachers would (and, by Zabrina's example, do) defend whatever raunchy material they offer on the ground that any given book teaches important life lessons, whatever the lesson in the book happens to be (triumph over racism, drug addiction, handicaps, sexual abuse — all the things people need to triumph over in today's literature). But why can't we teach the same lessons (presumably of courage, self-discipline, a sense of self-worth, honesty, etc.), in the old-fashioned way — by pointing to people, real or imagined, who had exemplary lives, and by writing about those lives using dignified language, not trashy language more worthy of the street corner than the classroom?
Anyway, I'm just recycling ideas that Zabrina presents with great lucidity in her posts. They're long, but you'll be doing yourselves a favor if you read about her travails in the public schools.Email This Post To A Friend
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