This is too violent for you to read so we have exchanged those words with our own.
Are you fucking kidding me?!
My own Glendale Unified School Board wants to keep AP teacher Holly Ciotti from being able to allow her students to read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Ciotti describes the book as “Capote’s work is a great fit for the class, Ciotti said, because it introduces students to the American judicial system and the death penalty, among other contemporary topics. It is also superbly written and allows students to form their own opinions,” according to the Glendale News-Press.
Board member Mary Boger calls the book “chilling”. DUH! It is a true story of a gory quadruple murder that happened back in the 50’s. It is not meant to be a walk in the park.
The book is being requested by Ciotti to teach to her 11th grade AP students. Let me repeat that ELEVENTH GRADE ADVANCED PLACEMENT STUDENTS. These are not namby pamby kids, these are the cream of the crop, these kids have probably read books, watched movies and played video games much worse than this book will ever be. But with the book being read and DISCUSSED in the classroom it gives them a chance to talk about violence, to talk about and form opinions about the judicial system. To talk about, form opinions about and HEAR other opinions on the aforementioned as well. That right there is the most important part.
We need to talk to kids about everything! Not only nice things, but bad things too; We need to be able to have open dialogue with kids and for them to be able to have open dialogue with us. As educators we need to channel the conversation away from the initial violence and talk about the feelings and lessons involved. That’s what educators do. That’s what Holly Ciotti does.
I applaud Board Members Joylene Wagner and Nayiri Nahabedian for their realization that this book could do good things no matter how “chilling” it is. I can only hope that Board Member Christine Walters will feel the same way after reserving her opinion until she reads the book.
Last year someone suggested we change Mark Twain’s writing -
“Undoubtedly the use of the word “nigger” – surely the most inflammatory word in the English language – makes Huckleberry Finn a tricky novel to teach. The book has recently repeatedly been judged as unsuitable for schoolchildren to study in the US educational system – and one can fully understand the feelings of anger and humiliation that many African American children and parents feel at having such a word repeatedly spoken in the classroom (the word appears 219 times in Twain’s book).” From The Guardian.
This resulted in millions of newly printed editions using the word “slave” and trying to obliterate a huge piece of American History.
Good bad or indifferent, history is history and if we change it before we teach our children about it we are doing them a huge disservice.
Update 9/28 - During an interview with KPCC on September 28, 2011, Board Member Mary Boger said she will abstain from the upcoming vote, because although she doesn’t want to hold something back from the students she “fundamentally” can not approve this book.
In my personal opinion an abstention is a wussy move. Either you approve it or you don’t. If you think the students should not read it than say so and stick by it. But don’t be a Charlie Brown and go wishy washy.
Checking my calendar for the election next April, Mary.
Adrienne Van Houten writes over at Adrienne’s House. Her two children were educated by the Glendale Unified School District and her grand daughter is currently enrolled. She is a former employee of the District.