professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Ex-cuuuuuuuuuuuse Me!

Some of you will know the reference made in the title as part of Steve Martin's act back when he was wearing the arrow through the head, white suit, etc. He was apologizing as insincerely as one could. And this came to mind recently as I was reading an online discussion about the book GEORGE (if you have not read this book, order it now. Author is Alex Gino). Several teachers were talking about why they would never have the book in their classrooms nor would it be in their schools. I have heard these excuses before, but they bear bringing them out into the light given the censorship issues of the past few weeks.

1. We do not have any ____________ (fill in the blank with whatever "group" is at the center of the book. So, I do not need to have that book. I have heard this excuse used for books about various races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and more. First, I am never certain that this is an accurate statement. But let's assume it is, can books not also be windows and doors. Can we not have books and share books about people who are not exactly like we are?

2. I cannot have books about ______________ because someone might object to it. Generally, these are from folks who fear the POSSIBILITY of a challenge. We call it gate-keeping: not adding a book to the collection in hopes no one will come in with a challenge. Folks, there is no such thing as a "safe" book. Go look at the most commonly challenged book list and read some of the reasons the books are challenged: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks. Better yet, go to this site and see how some folks will attack books on a WORD level: http://pabbis.org. Or here: http://www.safelibraries.org. If educators are gatekeepers, how will some kids ever find the books they need.

3. The topic of __________ is not something we need to discuss or present to kids. Sex, politics, religion: those are the 3 things we are told to avoid in conversation. And yet Facebook and Twitter is abuzz over these and other topics. What about race and racism in the light of events of late? What about a definition of a family? Bullying? A teacher recently resigned after the vitriol he had experienced after reading KING AND KING to his class following a bullying incident in his school. Literature tackles the tough stuff. We need to be sure we have tough books available.

Now, one final point here. I am NOT NOT NOT saying that selection does not need to enter into our deliberations when developing our collections. However, there is a blurred line between selection and censorship, and I fear I see too many educators who are crossing over to the dark side.
Tags: censorship, excusion
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