This week is Banned Books Week and if there's one thing I love it's doing something I'm not supposed to do. Not in a "Imma steal a car and run over seventeen old ladies," kind of way but in a "Oh, I'm not supposed to cross this line because you said so *cross*" kind of way.
If there's one thing we should cross lines about it's censorship. I think everyone at #WeirdEd agrees censorship is a terrible. On the other hand, it does tell us an awful lot about what the ruling class thinks is important and what they are scared of. It's always valuable to know what the ruling class is scared of us knowing.
Books get banned for all sorts of terrible, idiotic, and ridiculous reasons. Where the Wild Things Are was banned because Sendak nailed the occasional dark loneliness of childhood so precisely. Have to keep the kids from that. They can't know the truth. The Captain Underpants books are challenged every year as well because humorless adults have no idea what kids think is funny. We are called to seek out these verboten tomes and find out just what the big deal is. Some you can almost see the fuss over, especially in today's society...I'm a liar. I can't see a reason for banning any book. Everything teaches us something. (Though if someone wants to start the rumor that He's the Weird Teacher has been banned for being too damn awesome I'd not argue with you.)
We will look at some banned and challenged books, talk about their meanings or why they were banned/challenged, and learn from them. Are there reasons we should not allow students to read certain books at school? Teachers are in a weird place. We (read: I) am both a rebel and an authority figure. Books in school are an interesting place for lines to get drawn. Can I draw those lines? Should I?
How powerful is the effort to ban a book? Does it ever work? Does censorship ever actually quiet the message it is trying to keep down? Maybe for a moment, but the light shines through. Can you think of a time when you inadvertently censored a child?
#WeirdEd gets a little less silly and a little more serious this week, but in the best spirit of #WeirdEd. I can't wait to hear what you all think.