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Massachusetts School Allegedly Bans ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer

Massachusetts School Allegedly Bans ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer

“The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of ‘intersectional’ power struggles”

The left’s efforts to tear down the past may have started with the toppling of historical statues, but it is now working its way into other areas such as literature and education.

A teacher in Lawrence, Massachusetts, recently claimed on Twitter that Homer’s Odyssey had been removed from the curriculum.

This all came up because of a column in the Wall Street Journal by Meghan Cox Gurdon. Although the WSJ piece is behind a paywall, Chris Pandolfo of The Blaze has details:

Report: Massachusetts school bans ‘The Odyssey’ as progressives demand purge of classics

A Massachusetts school has reportedly removed “The Odyssey” from its English curriculum as progressive education activists and critical race theory ideologues seek to “disrupt texts” by purging material they deem objectionable from classrooms.

Meghan Cox Gurdon, in an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal, wrote about a “sustained effort” by “critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators” to “deny children access to literature.” These activists object to classic texts, such as Homer’s Odyssey or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” because they allege such texts may teach “racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate.”

“The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of ‘intersectional’ power struggles,” Gurdon wrote.

She quoted from an article by young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman published in the School Library Journal, that claims “challenging old classics is the literary equivalent of replacing statues of racist figures.”

Gurdon’s column included this Twitter exchange. The response is from a woman who identifies as a teacher in Lawrence, MA:

Gurdon claims she contacted this teacher for confirmation but says she was told her inquiry was “abrasive.”

Since then, the teacher has posted the following on Twitter:

There is an ongoing debate over ‘Disrupt Texts,’ with critics claiming it is just the latest effort to introduce Critical Race Theory in public schools.

There’s no question that the left is driving public education in this direction. The question that remains is how long parents and taxpayers will put up with it.

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I am convinced that Public Schools have outlived their usefulness, this reinforces my sentiments.

    legaldave in reply to MAJack. | December 29, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    LISTEN, THE progressive education activists and critical race theory ideologues WHO seek to “disrupt texts” by purging material they deem objectionable from classrooms KNOW BEST. BWHAHAHAAAH

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to legaldave. | December 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      Because they are from UN-educational institutions.

      But those brainwashing organizations have lots of communist Chinese money in their coffers!

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to MAJack. | December 29, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    You aren’t alone. I have felt this way for. decades.

    JHogan in reply to MAJack. | December 29, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    The neo-Marxists find them very useful.

Of course they should ban the story. It was written by a straight white male with a dysfunctional family. Even if he’s yellow, not white, he works in a nuclear power plant, for crying out loud.

Oh, wait. There was another Homer? Well, he’s probably just as bad.

    Lawrence MA schools should increase the availability of donuts. Since they seem bound and determined to eliminate common sense thinking in students and staff alike,

    “Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?”

    Perhaps, they could replace Homer’s Odyssey with the movie, The Warriors, which has a punchy soundtrack, the baseball Furies, the Lezies, the Saracens, the Moonrunners, the Van Cortlandt Rangers, the Jones Street Boys, and …
    Cyrus: Can you dig it?

The intersectional left:

Ignorance is strength.

Knowledge is racist.

Only power counts.

And an added bonus: If you quote me, you’re a liar (and most likely a racist, too)!

What about Banned band books by Lisa? 🙂

Bless her heart, I imagine that the extent of her literary education never extended beyond Cliff Notes and some purchased term papers written by someone with an actual degree in literature and tried to make a career of selling term papers.

    puhiawa in reply to NotKennedy. | December 29, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Same thing occurred to me.

    Joe-dallas in reply to NotKennedy. | December 29, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    To a large degree – Cliff notes is the lefts version of education

    the Odyssey is just too hard

    the left believes you should get an A in Trig or calculus if you can just add and subtract

    [after Diane gives Thornton an ‘F’ for his report, which was actually written by Kurt Vonnegut]

    Diane: Whoever *did* write this doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut!

    [cut to Thornton’s dorm suite]

    Thornton Melon: [on the phone] … and *another* thing, Vonnegut! I’m gonna stop payment on the cheque!

    [Kurt tells him off]

    Thornton Melon: F*ck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips, *f*ck you*! Next time I’ll call Robert Ludlum!

    [hangs up]

      Neo in reply to Neo. | December 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      As a matter of fact Kurt Vonnegut always said that he never wrote all that stuff, that people claim are in his books, into his books.

These people are ignorant crackpots and have no business teaching. Imagine if those two ignorant racists and fabulists had to teach Dante or The Iliad, significantly more difficult works. Or Vanity Fair by Thackeray. All of which I had in ninth grade in addition to The Odyssey, The Jungle, and The Late Great George Apley. David Copperfield was the summer assignment.

Obviously banned for having too many 50 cent words

    All of the characters are Greek. So are all of the gods. And the women are really hot even though none have neon red, green or pink hair. You would think that being Greek, there would be more hermaphrodite characters too but no. And where are the Puerto Ricans!

    Homer was a xenophobic, homophobic, male chauvinist bigot! Worse than H.P. Lovecraft!

WELL SURLY, progressive education activists and critical race theory ideologues WHO seek to “disrupt texts” by purging material they deem objectionable from classroomS KNOW BEST! BWAHHAHAAAHAHA….

Shea Martin is unattractive and completely styleless, unless you count lack of style as a style.

I would never want such an ugly, unenlightened person, inside and out, to teach any child.

    Her looks are her problem. Her views, on the other hand, are the whole country’s problem. BTW, there’s a whole lot of empty “space” behind that mask.

The Friendly Grizzly | December 29, 2020 at 3:01 pm

I suppose it will all be replaced with the rantings of Cornel West, and the drivel of Maya Anjelou.

So we have illiterate activists teaching in schools run by other illiterate activists who let them get away with this garbage. Is it any wonder they graduate illiterate activists who go on to secondary education thinking they can dictate how those institutions are run?

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Idonttweet. | December 29, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    This all came about with unions, education degrees, and Affirmative Action.

    In my work, I often surveyed schools; even entire districts. I encountered principals with – at best – semi-literate English. “Ain’t got no…”, “You beez wrong, yo!”. Some had mouths on them that could embarrass a dockside aboarding house landlady.

    Ironically, some of the very poorest districts I went into at least seemed to have dedicated, caring staff. Everyone from the principals to the lunchroom ladies. They didn’t seem to have the time or temperament for this nonsense.

      I have been at a charter school in a very poor area for a while now. What you say is true. It has by far the highest level of community concern of any school where I have worked.

      You should hear how upset the cafeteria workers get because the covid rules won’t let them cook. Pretty much every worker has at least one kid/grandkid in the school.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Dathurtz. | December 29, 2020 at 3:43 pm

        An eye opener for me was work I did for the DeSoto County MS district. They had their share of day-care schools, and I don’t need to elaborate on the makeup of the student body.

        In others, I heard the teacher challenging the kids. “WHY do you say that, Melissa? Please explain you arrived at your answer.”. It was not that the teacher wanted the Pavolovian response, he genuinely sought out the reasoning. I saw this as both the child being challenged to defend an answer, and to enlighten the rest of the students.

        A school district in a city about 50 miles or so east of Memphis: same thing. Parking places for trash, but active, lively, buzzing-with-thinking schools for the students who were worth it. In the trash places, most of the teachers sat at their desks pecking away at smartphones or reading “Elle”, while the classroom television set ran Maury, or other daytime TV. The treachers either didn’t care, or, had just given up.

          Somewhat similar experience. I refereed High school and collegiate volleyball in the 1980’s. There was a very pronounced difference in the intellectual capacity between the coaches of the suburban schools and the coaches from schools in the Dallas (TX) independent school district. The coaches for VB at that time also worked as teachers.

    alohahola in reply to Idonttweet. | December 30, 2020 at 3:39 am

    Don’t forget that these illiterate are also being abusive to students, shaming and intimidating them constantly.

    It’s not a good situation.

Lawrence is one of the 3 poorest communities in MA. It’s school system was such a failure that it was placed under state receivership in 2011. That said, they do have an amazing high school facility, probably one of the best in the state showing clearly that it’s not the building that makes the education.

In other recent MA cancel culture news, the school committee in the town of Acton MA recently canceled the school’s mascot – The Colonials. The town borders Concord and its militia was among the first to reach the North Bridge on April 19, 1775. Isaac Davis led Acton’s militia and is recognized as the first American office to die in the Revolutionary War as he was killed in the battle. None of this matters to the agitators in that town most of whom have ascribed their own twisted interpretation of what being a “Colonial” means in towns like Lexington, Concord and Acton and the cowardly school board bent to the whims of a few whiners. So sad and only the beginning I fear.

    alaskabob in reply to Massinsanity. | December 29, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    That dead white slave-owning president, Thomas Jefferson, said that a nation cannot exist both free and ignorant. Some truths are enduring.

    I would take Jefferson Davis’ obituary of the Confederacy and apply it to today. He wrote:

    “If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: ‘Died of a Theory.’”

    Ours will read “Died of a Marxist Theory” if you don’t stop it.

    Joe-dallas in reply to Massinsanity. | December 29, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I visited the downtown Boston area bunker hill etc, in 2007.

    Virtually every street corner had a monument to military brigade, battle, etc starting from the revolutionary war through WWII, then nothing after WWII. It was like a complete time warp, nothing for Korea, Vietnam,

The more things change the more they stay the same…

The people most opposed to heroic romances and fairy tales happen to be Marxists. After the release of Lord of the Rings Tolkien suffered blistering attacks from ‘modernist’ Marxists. Brief list:

Marxist modernist Edmund Wilson (1956)
Marxist feminist Catherine Stimpson (1969)
Marxist psychoanalytic Romemary Jackson (1981)
Marxist critic Fred Inglis (1984)
London Review of Books Marxist Jeanne Turner (2000)

It’s OK… the Odyssey was written by a Homersexual.

“…and then take The Odyssey out of your curriculum because it’s trash.”

Sorry, that’s our culture, not yours. You have absolutely no right to pass judgement on another culture. That’s RACIST. You are guilty of felony cultural misappropriation.

I see, they aren’t banning these books, they’re just ignoring them. That’s a smart way to do it, quietly remove books from the curriculum and (probably)no one will notice. The key part is “quietly”. You can’t be quiet AND tweet about it.

As much as I dislike banning books, at least there’s some kind of public discussion when it is done. With this, it’s just a few teachers at a time deciding they don’t understand the literature well enough to teach it so they are going to ignore it. (The reason I give for their decision is just my opinion but I haven’t seen any evidence to contradict it.)

“With this, it’s just a few teachers at a time deciding they don’t understand the literature well enough to teach it so they are going to ignore it. (The reason I give for their decision is just my opinion but I haven’t seen any evidence to contradict it.”

Seems to be a convenient method for the banning of books, poems, novels and unwelcome literature.

Given the horrid example of “Greekified” Roman script used in the image of “The Odyssey” it might be better not to teach those texts at all instead of distorting them to the insane ideological perspective of most unionized teachers of today…

Our school district has a leftist Superintendent who, a few years ago, proposed bringing in a consultant from Syracuse University (the very heart of educational leftism) and one of the ideas mentioned was a reading-optional high school, because there are different learning styles, some are kinesthetic learners, etc. etc. The idea was that the curriculum would have them moving around a lot and that activities would impact the students through many senses.

The whole roomful of parents dutifully went along. I pushed back at this consultant because of this and some other things she had said proving she doesn’t mind abusing conservative parents.

The Super didn’t say anything, but due to a misrouted email message I found out he’s calling me a “conspiracy theorist” to various community leaders based surely on this episode which had nothing to do with conspiracies, just that I wasn’t complying with his consultant.

These people are quite slick and appear to be very proper, and under the covers they mean business and have an agenda that’s hard to believe.

    Dathurtz in reply to artichoke. | December 29, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    The absolute best part of the “learning styles” stuff is that it totally lacks any experimental verification. Our whole dang system takes it as an assumption when all available evidence says it is nonsense.

    Anonamom in reply to artichoke. | December 30, 2020 at 9:05 am

    “The whole roomful of parents dutifully went along. I pushed back at this consultant because of this and some other things she had said proving she doesn’t mind abusing conservative parents.”

    “These people are quite slick and appear to be very proper, and under the covers they mean business and have an agenda…”

    Exactly right. I live in a very conservative area and yet our public schools are atrocious, wasteful, and completely out of control. Why? Because parents go along with it. It is far easier to just swallow the lie that those “other places” are problematic, but “our schools” and “little Johnny’s teacher” are just fine. And woe unto the people who DO try to challenge them. The district and their supporters (the school district is the county’s largest employer) organize rather vicious slander campaigns-while being very careful to stay in the background. It’s almost unbelievable, except I’ve watched it happen.

I always thought there should be a preference for including in the curriculum the products of *successful* cultures. As a non-racist, I want everyone to have the educational benefit of the greatest achievements, to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Was Greece a successful culture? Is there an advantage to students knowing the familiar cultural landmarks? Or, are we willing to sacrifice these kids for the idea that they’ll be a vanguard that dismantles the existing culture and replaces it with the one they learned — even if the new culture is more closely associated with historical failure?

We should not assume that all old cultures were equally successful, just that all kids deserve the right to learn from the best of the past.

    mark311 in reply to artichoke. | December 30, 2020 at 8:03 am

    The Greek culture was very successful, but like any civilisation it had its time. Always things to learn. The Romans did , the consumed large large parts of the Greek culture, science and so on. Many Greek thinkers went to Rome after Greece was diminished. And vice versa Rome invested quite heavily in Athens for example.

And people wonder why we are paying to put our children through parochial schools . . .

    artichoke in reply to Old Soldier. | December 30, 2020 at 7:01 am

    How much better are the parochial (Catholic) schools? I’ve heard some pretty woke stories about the nuns lately — not the old style where they’d rap my dad’s knuckles with a ruler when he got out of line — he turned out well and always thought the discipline had been good. But he left the church.

    Oh, and I just heard the Catholic school where I grew up, that some of my friends attended, was sexually abusing boys — a problem we’ve seen often in the RCC.

    I hope they’re still good, just that I haven’t heard such good things about the parochial schools in recent years.

I read through some of the comments on the #DisruptTexts feed and it confirmed my long-standing view that Twitter is a cesspool.

Sooo…chick is “proud” to eliminate the Odyssey from the curriculum, BUT she’s against book bans. I would ask her WHY exactly is she so “proud” of that accomplishment, if she’s not on favor of banning books? WHY would the Odyssey fail to meet the “needs” of her students? Is it a tacit admission that her students are too low-information to get anything out of it, or perhaps it’s her acknowledgement that she is a crappy teacher who is incapable of making the topic relevant to her students?

There was the unsavory aftermath of Helen’s whoring around.

Lawrence has got a LOT of problems none of which will be affected one twit by failing to educate the students in the Classics.

    artichoke in reply to Sudsy. | December 29, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    Whether they are learning or not, there can be a good effect by making good stuff available for those who can take it. Then some good will filter around the school, and also nobody can say the stupid stuff is your fault. At least you provided the opportunity to be inspired by something better.

I can tell you that most of the books I read as a kid I did on my own time.

Literature begins at home and if you want your kids exposed to good stuff then put it on your bookshelves and let them discover literature for themselves.

And always keep tabs on the nitwits who are “educating” your children.

“There’s no question that the left is driving public education in this direction. The question that remains is how long parents and taxpayers will put up with it.”

The answer is, for a frighteningly large percentage, forever. We have allowed the Cult of the Overworked Unappreciated Teacher™ to develop, akin to the Noble Single Mother. To criticize public education is to declare that one hates teachers and students and puppies and unicorns. And, even worse, if parents accept that their children’s schools are underperforming, then the parents must, you know, DO SOMETHING. And God forbid that parents actually become actively involved in the rearing of their young.

I’ve frankly given up on the hope of reforming public schools. I hope only for school choice. Tying the money to the student will allow parents who DO care to escape the system and foster the growth of better alternatives.

(Or, alternatively, parents can choose to homeschool. Which is best. 🙂 )

What is a Greek book (even in English translation) doing in an English class? Do English classes routinely teach foreign language works?

(I don’t include the King James Bible, since it’s the translation that is a classic of the English language, and therefore belongs in an English course. But I would not support studying other translations in English, unless the subject of the course is translation from other languages, and how the same original text can be rendered different ways in English.)

You’ve split the arrow. I told my daughter who has been trying to teach her kids from home and do her work (S.F. Public Health Dept.- busy folks lately) at the same time to ignore the drivel work sheets and “word searches” being foisted off as oxymoronic “distance learning” and to get her kids sitting down, reading, and then explaining what they had read to her. Literacy is everything. Literary criticism is pompous BS.