Proactive Measures an Educator Can Take
Education is not something to be feared. There are enough hurdles in teaching with which we must deal. So how can we stop the above situation from occurring in our classrooms? Here are just a few suggestions. I'm sure you can think of many more. Please share them on the Forum!
- Choose the books you use wisely. Make sure that they fit nicely into your curriculum. You should have evidence which you can present that the books you are using are necessary for the student.
- If you are using a book that you know has caused concerns in the past, try to come up with alternative novels that students can read.
- Make yourself available to answer questions about the books you have chosen. In the very beginning of the school year, introduce yourself to parents at open house and tell them to call you if they have any concerns. If a parent calls you there will probably be less of a problem then if they call administration.
- Discuss the controversial issues in the book with the students. Explain to them the reasons those parts were necessary for the author's work.
- Have an outside speaker come to class to discuss concerns. For example, if you are reading Huckleberry Finn, get a Civil Rights Activist to give a presentation to students about racism.
I remember a situation that Ray Bradbury describes in the coda to Fahrenheit 451. In case you aren't familiar with the story itself, it is about a future where all books are burned because the people have decided that knowledge brings pain. It is far better to be ignorant than knowledgeable. Anyway, Bradbury's coda discusses the censorship that he's faced. He had a play which he sent to a university to be produced. They sent it back because it had no women in it. This is the height of irony. Nothing was said about the content of the play or the fact that there was a reason it featured only men. They did not want to offend a certain group at the school: women. Do I feel there is a place for censorship and banning of books? I cannot in all honesty say that I would wish my child to read certain books in certain grades. I apologize for not providing easy answers. But one thing remains certain, I am better for that which I have learned in life. As I said before, education is not to be feared.