You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring news about banned and challenged books.

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Hyperbolic but worth the read: an essay titled What Do Apartheid South Africa and Tucson, Arizona Have in Common?


Are Republicans more likely than Democrats to be in favor of banning books that teach “dangerous ideas”?  It would seem so (duh), but the good news is that today, fewer Americans overall approve of banning books than they did a few years ago.

Speaking of Republicans, one plank of the recently-adopted Texas GOP platform calls for eliminating the teaching of critical thinking in schools:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

What, you ask, does this have to do with banning books?  Everything.  When enforced ignorance shoulders its way into the law books (as with the recent law banning the mention of “gateway sexual activity” in Tennessee schools, or the proposed Arizona law to ban “partisan” textbooks), reactionary authorities will use the laws as an excuse to ban books from school reading lists and libraries … and in my opinion, banning books is the underlying purpose of such laws.

ACLU weighs in on Utah school’s book banning.  Duh.

Bodily function books popular with kids; less so with parents.  Duh.

Item: spelling bee kids favor banned books.  Another duh.

Illinois school board spokesman takes a lesson in denial from the Tucson Unified School District: “Heaven forbid, we didn’t ban any books or materials from our school — we merely chose to get other teaching materials from another place.”  Oh well, that’s okay then!

Tom Gauld, The New York Times

Wondering about the cartoon?  It goes with this NYT article: How to read a racist book to your kids.

2 thoughts on “You Can’t Read That!

  • Re: Critical Thinking Skills. When I taught 8th grade in the ’80s, I taught CTS. I was severely criticized by the parents (Evangelicals) of two students because I taught students to listen very carefully to the other side of an argument, try to understand that argument, and then muster all the relevant facts. It seems the students were doing it to their parents and the parents didn’t like the results.

    I also taught using “performance objectives”. For example’. The student will be able to explain, in writing, the three causes of the Civil War, and then tested to those objectives. For example: write a short paragraph on each of the three main causes of the Civil War. The head of my department said I was teaching the test.

  • I guess if you’re going to be an evangelical, you should homeschool your children. They can always get jobs when Republicans are in power, no matter how little they know. I suppose USAF-style performance objectives teaching might look like “teaching the test” to outsiders … of course these days they say that’s about all schools do, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. We’re all going to be as dumb as homeschoolers pretty soon.

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