Thursday, February 18, 2010

Topic: Teachers and Censorship

10-second review: Some points of view about dealing with censorship: “Ken Donelson lists several responsibilities teachers who select reading materials must accept. These include implementing a formal policy for handling any attempted censorship, preparing a rationale and defense for any work to be taught in any class by any teacher, communicating to the public and to students what is going on in the classroom and why, and recognizing that the censor may sometimes have a legitimate complaint.” p. 502.

Title: ERIC/RCS: “Censorship and Selection.” T Olsen. Journal of Reading (March 1974), 502-503. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Comment: I think this advice needs a good deal of thought. In my experience, few would disagree with a formal procedure for dealing with censorship. On the other hand, few, if any, teachers prepare a rationale for selecting materials to teach. Teachers rarely communicate what they are teaching—and especially why. And most teachers with whom I have worked think there is no good reason for censorship at all or ever.

Of all of these responsibilities, it is my strong opinion that teachers need to prepare rationales for any materials that might be objectionable. The NCTE recommends the following steps in a rationale: a brief summary of the book. Brief description of the controversial parts of the book. Appropriate grade and maturity level of the students who will be reading the book. A detailed plot summary. Value of the book to the students who read it. Literary qualities of the book. Objectives in using the book. Teaching methods to be used in reading the book. Assignments to be completed by the students while reading the book. Possible objections to the book. Critics’ and educators’ opinions about the values of reading the book. RayS.

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