It sounds like teachers don’t know how to do their job so it’s easier to remove a book than discuss the themes and teach your students how to critically think.
The Mukilteo School Board in Washington voted to remove To Kill a Mockingbird from the required reading list for ninth graders because students complained of racial insensitivity.
That. Is. The. Point. Of. The. Book.
(They only removed it from the required list. It’s still in the library and teachers can teach it.)
But To Kill a Mockingbird should be on the required list.
Board member John Gahagan had the most ludicrous explanations and justifications for removing a book that is meant to make you uncomfortable and confront racism.
Gahagan’s comments reveal more about the lack of education than they do about why the book should be removed. From The Seattle Times:
Gahagan said he reread the novel, about a white lawyer’s efforts to defend a Black man wrongly accused of rape, last week for the first time in 50 years.
“It’s a very difficult book and lot of thorny subjects are raised and we felt that some teachers may not feel comfortable guiding their students through it,” Gahagan said. “It deals not only with racism, but it reflects a time when racism was tolerated.
“Atticus Finch, of course is in everyone’s memory the great hero of the book, but in fact he was kind of tolerant of the racism around him. He described one of the members of the lynch mob as a good man.”
I used to teach ninth-grade English. My job was supposed to introduce children to classic literature and how to critically think.
Critically think. If the teachers do not feel comfortable “guiding their students through” a supposed controversial book then don’t teach literature. Your job is supposed to combine literature and history. You teach them the book and about the times the book took place and what is what like when Harper Lee wrote the book. (That is, if she did. Rumor has it that Truman Capote wrote it!)
You are supposed to discuss the themes, language, conflicts, etc.
More from The Seattle Times:
Students and community members also cited the book’s use of the n-word as a reason for removing it from the required list.
“And it never has a discussion of why that word is bad why it is hurtful or why it should not be used,” Gahagan said. “You don’t really get the perspective of the pain that might cause people of color.”
Then teach that to your class! It is YOUR job to lead that discussion in your class. Do you want racism to end? Then shove it in their faces and make them confront it.
If the teachers only teach the book then they are not doing their job (emphasis mine):
School Board President Michael Simmons called the decision “emotionally charged.” He said that ultimately, board members did what they thought was best for students. He said his two daughters both read the book when they went through Mukilteo schools and the issues being discussed now never came up.
“At the end of the day, the recommendation from the instructional materials committee was such that each of us voted to affirm that recommendation,” Simmons said.
You do not just teach the book. Look at what I wrote above. It is the teacher’s job to bring those issues to the discussion table.
If you think To Kill a Mockingbird reinforces racism then you haven’t read the book or you don’t know how to critically think.
A person should come away from the book disgusted by racism.DONATE
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