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Racist books read within the Curriculum

Discussion in 'Education news' started by lorraine7, Oct 31, 2019.

  1. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    Context, context, context!
    towncryer, lanokia and Jamvic like this.
  2. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    The whole point is that it exposes the racism. It's not a 'racist story line' - it's a story about a racist society and exposes that racism for what it was/is.
    it doesn't 'promote the use the the N word as ok' as you put it, it shows how appallingly racist attitudes were and still are.

    You don't fight racism by hiding it.
    towncryer, lanokia, Jamvic and 7 others like this.
  3. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    Indeed it is also about the society and the attitudes that give rise to the use of such language.
    towncryer, lanokia, Jamvic and 3 others like this.
  4. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    I was hoping this was a wind-up....

    Of Mice and Men is all about the crushing and cruel effects of prejudice, inequality and segregation in America: that's kind of the point - how they treat Crooks (the recipient of the 'N' word) shows how black people were treated. However; it's not just ethnic minorities; women, working class males.... the whole book is about dehumanisation. As some other posters have pointed out, the vast majority of the UK population in the last two decades will have studied this in school (most at GCSE). There is nothing to admire in the world created by Steinbeck - no one could read it and think 'Wow - what a great place to live and be.' Appreciating how and why society develops is a crucial part of education. That's called context.

    Also to echo other posters: the 'N' word pops up in other works of literature, including Lord of the Flies; but the students can readily appreciate context (including young children). I could spend a good few thousand words highlighting all the inflammatory terms used in most GCSE and A Level texts.

    My only issue with the school is that I personally wouldn't teach Of Mice and Men to Year 8 - most schools I know of teach it in Year 9 (now that it is no longer a GCSE text).

    Maybe the parents should get together and organise a good old book burning outside the school? (and that's called sarcasm!)
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  5. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Am I allowed to keep my Biggles collection?
  6. Jamvic

    Jamvic Star commenter

    “I believe in any kid’s ability to read any book and form their own judgments. It’s the job of a parent to guide his/her child through the reading of every book imaginable. Censorship of any form punishes curiosity.”
    Sherman Alexie


    This is not a petition any teacher should be signing imo.
  7. eleanorms

    eleanorms Occasional commenter

    My incredible English teacher in the 80s told us to read Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath alongside 1984 because they were both exploring the same issue, that in the search for the ideal Collective the rights of the individual will be compromised. For Orwell, this utopia was a rotten political system, for Steinbeck, the American ideal that wealth means power, which led to the crash and Depression against which his books are set. Both discuss dehumanism, both discuss that moral or physical weakness is something of which to be ashamed and suppressed. And my Enlish teacher was no racist and definitely no proponent of Capitalism! To say that Of Mice and Men is a racist book means you haven't actually bothered to think about it at all. And surely now in this world of social media and Instagram influencers the rights and the powers of the individual have become more important than ever. Sorry to rant, but this suggested petition really annoyed me!!
  8. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    exactly, the OP and the petition have been written from a position of total ignorance, which to some extent has to be willful, as it is a very short book, and its message is relatively straightforward for anyone of normal intelligence.

    no, of course not, not teacher should be signing a petition promoting censorship and willful ignorance
    Oscillatingass and peter12171 like this.
  9. tb506

    tb506 New commenter

    Would you have the same feeling if books were read that had £onkey in it?
    Jonntyboy and alex_teccy like this.
  10. install

    install Star commenter

    Surely you are not suggesting that the dangers of racism shouldn't be taught in schools? And what about the sexist elements in the book, the swear words and the use of 'nuts' to describe someone with learning issues?

    Do you intend to ban the dictionary as well because the word you reference is in there too ? You see wiping out history and pretending that racism (or any other prejudice) never happens is as bad as the crime itself. Far better to teach that racism and prejudice like this does not make for an equal society. And to let students of all races, genders and beliefs know what to do should they ever encounter it.

    I suggest you read Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple' which explores racism. The author is a brilliant black American writer. I hope you are not suggesting that authors cannot write autobiographies too, detailing their awful experiences of derogatory racist language and how they overcame it?
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  11. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Much of what I'd say has been said so I won't repeat.

    But I am disappointed by "books" in the thread title. Only one book is being discussed. What other books qualify as "racist" to the OP?
  12. Jamvic

    Jamvic Star commenter

    I’ve only just noticed that every 7 views/clicks on the OP petition link gets converted into 1 vote in its favour. I’m somewhat irritated by that as I initially clicked on it to find out more when the thread first appeared

    This is a ridiculous system! It makes it impossible to know how many votes, are individuals genuinely agreeing with the premise or how many are merely cumulative views/clicks of curious readers generating false positive ‘votes’.

    I resent the fact that me just clicking on this link to find out more about the rationale behind the petition or to view how much support it’s generating would contribute in any way towards a single vote in it’s favour.

    Gaining support for any cause via these clickbait tactics should not be permitted as it means the results will be extremely misleading. If just 7 people on this thread have clicked on the link once then we have helped a petition, whose premise we fundamentally disagree with, to achieve the impression of increased support.

    I shall be looking much more carefully at how different petition sites actually work from now on before clicking on any links to view specific petition details.
  13. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    That is crazy!
  14. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    That cannot in any way be considered a valid petition, its just a meaningless gimmick.

    Maybe its something to do with advertising, and the person setting up the petition gets some sort of credit for the number of people who click on it.

    that might be why the opening post is so ignorant and provocative
    Jamvic and install like this.
  15. install

    install Star commenter

    Agree. The OP should have said that even clicking on the link equates to an agreement of the petition. Very naughty imho.
  16. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    As far as I can see this isn't true. I've had a play in various ways and viewing doesn't increase the total number of signatures. There is a 'cheeky' trick on the site though. The vote counter never loads the correct number of signatures. At the moment it's 111 (and has been for a while). When you load the page it shows 92 or 95 or 86 and then the counter slowly/randomly increases whilst you are there to make it look like other people are adding their signature. That it's a popular petition .
  17. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    “The sheep looked from Media Influencer to Tweeter, them from Tweeter to Influencer. The animals saw that all looked the same. The digital revolution was complete. #letsgetbofflineandstopbeingviletoeachother
    Jonntyboy likes this.
  18. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Oh dear. You’d better not read any Rudyard Kipling, then...
    Jonntyboy and install like this.
  19. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Yeah but PC Newspeak only consists of about twelve acceptable words and ideas. I know my ‘1984’. It happened!
    Jamvic likes this.
  20. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Sometimes you need the language to show character differences and set up the debate on tolerance versus bigotry. Who can forget that simultaneously horrible yet admirable scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when Bob Ewell rounded on Atticus Finch and called him a ‘n..... lover’? Then he spat on Atticus. Who glared at him in the eye while calmly wiping away the spittle. Later we discover that he could have cut Ewell in half; he was a crack shot with a gun and had perfect aim. But he rose above it. I loved that scene. Take the spit when you know you could flatten them. You decide. You control it. You confuse the racist by reacting differently and, hopefully, after a while, getting them to reconsider.
    It was not entirely Ewell’s fault that he was racist incestuous scum. Mostly, but not entirely. That was the beauty of the novel...to show us why people can behave so appallingly. The parallels with today are pretty chilling. Bob Ewell was born into a horrendous life and flailed around, hurting, drinking, stealing, fighting. He came from a culture of under achievement and misplaced resentment. Whereas the black community of Maycomb come out as tolerant, decent, aspirational folk with good values, articulate expression, empathy and belonging to a strong church community shepherded by the Reverand Sykes. The white trash had nothing. You have to show readers what the horrors are in order to educate them and suggest better alternative values. Atticus understood all the Maycomb community. Some have more hope than others. Some are more resilient than others. Some, like the Cunninghams, can relent a bit. But ‘you never really understand a man until you crawl inside his skin and see things from his point of view.’ Which might be, sadly, a racist one. You still have to know the view though, in order to combat it and see it for what it really is...a messed up failure of a man who abused his own daughter and used Tom Robinson as a scapegoat for his own crimes.

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