Saturday, November 4, 2006


"When I was a kid your age ..."

One of the great things about being a teacher is having the captive audience. Out of sheer politeness and occasional interest, I was able to tell stories about real history -- the things that I experienced as a child -- to a classroom of my students. Forget about "teaching to the test" as the "No Child Left Behind" generation of classroom teachers is being forced to do by King George and Washington's Book and Test Seller Lobby, I could still cover the required curriculum and have time to really teach.

I remember when each year's new group and I would come across one of the best parts of education -- "the teachable moment." Yes, teachers were taught to take advantage of such times to stray from the lesson plans and just "go with the flow" so that some important and meaningful lesson could be shared. Those moments are probably more rare these days to the pressure of "THE TEST" and the cookie cutter Lansing curriculum. How very sad.

Get to the point, Lee!

I came across an article in the Michigan News feed at Michigan Liberal that made me even more concerned about the education of our kids. I won't get hysterical about it because it has been happening since before I became a teacher. I cannot remember a year when it didn't happen. It's especially sad that it's happening right here in Michigan.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is under attack in Taylor, Michigan. Ignorance and stupidity has once again gripped the family and friends of a student required to hear fellow students read aloud from the book. I admit that having a class read a book aloud in the old "round robin" teaching style has been pooh-poohed by reading experts as potentially frustrating the student unable to read well. No one wants to draw attention to the fact that Dick or Jane may read haltingly or possibly mess up in some other way and become embarrassed.

Ah, but the objection to the book is not how its read. It is once more and for all time -- the content. Yes, the content of a historical novel is under attack. The historically accurate expressions used by the characters in Huckleberry Finn are offensive to the sensibilities of a student.

After listening to Bill Mayer last night as he tried to tell Democrats how to respond to stupid Republican attacks, my only honest response to this Taylor School District problem -- TOUGH SHIT. Tell the kid and everyone else to just get over themselves. Tell the world that we will not remove books from our curriculum and libraries because some bit of it seems racist or offends you in some manner. Stand UP Taylor Schools and act like you really understand the meaning of a "good education" and "loco parentis". Stop letting the loons and over-sensitive ignorant and uneducated sheep lead the flock. DO YOUR JOB!

The money quotes from the Associated Press:

"Mark Twain's classic "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has been pulled from high school classes after a parent of a black student complained that a teacher had students read portions aloud.

There is only one black child in the English class where the book, which contains racial slurs, was read aloud and acted out, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

The book will remain on the shelves at Taylor School District's high schools. The district's curriculum committee will recommend to the school board whether the book should have a future in district classrooms."

And the real screamer:

"We want to be sensitive to how the children feel," said Lynette Sutton, assistant superintendent for secondary instruction."

When will this silliness end?

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