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Censorship At The School Board Level Will Make Forgetters

By Author: allan
Total Articles: 367

The Times Argus editorial also reminds readers that tolerance and the ability to respect human differences does not happen automatically: "It must be taught. And if teachers, parents or books don't teach it, then who or what will" . We too wonder about this, especially when we think about the role of book challenges that make teachers want to teach only what is "safe," preventing the possibility of offending parents or any other would-be censors. If books are challenged and disappear from the curriculum, who will teach students to think about and question the status quo when what passes as the norm is privilege for one group at the expense of another, or when denigration of people from diverse backgrounds is Replica Omega Seamaster Watches so routine that many do not even see it Books that can open our eyes to white privilege, for example, or to injustices suffered by members of our society are often the very ones that are challenged. "It is no coincidence," said Noll (1994), "that censored literature is usually that which challenges some'authority' by offering alternative perspectives of reality".

In talks and interviews, Yolen often decries such censorship for violating readers' right to read and also for denying young people a chance to know about their world in ways that will make them better human beings. Speaking to an audience at the International Reading Association's annual conference in 2005 about the mail that she has received from children in regard to Briar Rose and the Holocaust, Yolen pointed out the power of books like hers to expand the understanding and awareness of the children who read them. Those who write to her, she said, are wrestling—most of them for the first time—with the idea that because they are who they are, born to particular parents, they would have been on one side or the other of a concentration camp's barbed wire. They are struggling to understand how human beings could bring themselves to capture, to torture, to experiment on, to humiliate, to kill other human beings.

Yolen's mail makes quite clear the value of books like Briar Rose and what will be lost if we allow such books to be removed from our classrooms and libraries as a result of the challenges of those who would layer their beliefs, like a patina, over the desire of others to know. Such a patina can obscure, cover, even make disappear what is beneath it. It is a fear that important memories will disappear altogether that drives Yolen to write stories like Briar Rose, though they can be painful to write. "I was years deep in the madden piles and torture chambers and the devil's count of bodies," she said.

Yet, she tells us, she wrote about the horrors of Replica Rolex the concentration camp at Chelmno so that others would remember. Remembering is important for preventing future Holocausts and other atrocities. Briar Rose and books like it show us that knowing what the worst of us can do is vital for helping us to strive for what the best of us can be. And yet, those who challenge books like Briar Rose would seal those memories away, making them unavailable to young people. We are told often enough the fate of those who fail to learn and remember the lessons of history. Banning books may well be the way to such a fate. Yolen (2005) argued, "Censorship—in the classroom, in the library, at the school board level—will make forgetters of us all."

Teachers can see censorship as the frayed edge or slippery spot on their tightrope from which they can fall at any moment once the process of a book challenge is begun. In fact, when teachers have "fallen" from grace during or after a district- or community-wide censorship debate that began in their classrooms, they have been known to lose the support of colleagues and supervisors (Tigner-Rasanen, 2001), lose confidence (Agee, 1999), and even lose their professional lives when fired (Lacks, 1997). Lakoff and Johnson (1980) pointed out that metaphors are "among our principal vehicles for understanding" , and certainly the metaphor of censorship as a dangerous tightrope is very helpful to understand the stresses that teachers feel when books are challenged or when even the threat of a censorship debate forces them to act in ways that they ordinarily wouldn't.

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