Education Opinion

Censorship and Sensibility

By Katie Hanifin — June 07, 2009 1 min read
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I had an interesting conversation with a colleague the other day about curriculum. I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, I thought you said interesting...”

Don’t worry, I’m not so far gone that curriculum is my favorite topic. But we were really talking about censorship, sex, and literature. Now do I have your attention?

There are some compelling new reads out there that some schools are brave enough to broach with their high school teens, among them 19 Minutes, Speak, and A Northern Light. Meanwhile, other high schools continue to play it safe with classics like The Scarlet Letter. I don’t have much in common with teenagers, however, I felt just as linguistically-alienated by the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne 15 years ago as our juniors do today. And really, for a guy born in 1804, what’s a decade or two more?

When words like “condom”, “rape”, or “school shooting” show up in literature, we balk. We will, instead, spend our time arduously dragging 16 and 17 year-olds through a piece written over a century and a half ago. Meanwhile, if we listen carefully in our hallways, we can hear lively and immersive discussions on controversial adolescent issues. If not in school, where do young people enjoy a forum to decide how to work through the very real issues that face them in the modern world?

The opinions expressed in Teaching Generation Tech are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.