Thursday, October 20, 2005


I read this today in the Washington Post. (The site requires registration,if you like, go to to borrow an established registration.)
An English teacher at Cabin John Middle School assigned eighth graders to choose one of one hundred books that have been banned at one time or other. Students were encouraged to review the list with their parents as they made their selection. Part of the assignment was to understand what criteria is used in determining banned material. The assignment had been given to last year's class also, without incident.
But this year some parents (some being up to five, but I'll allow that the number might have grown in the assignment hadn't been quashed so quickly) objected.
Some of the books included explicit discussions of sex and/or presented a pro-homosexual viewpoint. And I can certainly see how some parents may not want their 12-13 year olds reading such material. But there are one hundred books on that list. Some were by Mark Twain, Roald Dahl and Madeline L'Engle. And the assignment encouraged parents to talk to their children about the list. So if there were titles on the list that they felt were inappropriate for their children, it was a perfect learning moment to have that conversation.
I'm not saying that parents can't attempt to raise their children with values or that they have to agree with everything that goes on in the world. Everyone doesn't even have to agree with me (shocking, I know). But hey, part of raising your children is teaching them what's going on in the rest of the world. Just like you tell your kids not to talk to strangers, you tell them hey - this book conflicts with my beliefs. Or I think you're to young for this information.
My mother was great at watching television with me - encouraging me to think about themes and messages within the shows and even the ads. So that now when I see the "Power Puff Girls" episode where one of the girls gets glasses and her sisters make fun of her, it drives me crazy. I have a friend who's mother didn't like "The Flintstones" because she thought it depicted a bad marital relationship. And my cousins weren't allowed to watch "Rugrats" because of Angela's behavior toward her sibling and his friends. But both my friend and my cousins knew why their parents' objected. So even if they didn't agree, they understood why their parents felt that way. They got their learning moment.
Sadly, the children of Cabin John Middle School, got a different message. Your parents don't even want you to know about this stuff. They don't trust you.