So We Were Saying Censorship Is a Bad Thing. . .

17 06 2007

as champion of public education Greg Laden and his anonymous, pissy blog-puppets continue grumbling that homeschoolers generally — JJ especially — are censor-happy control freaks, you know, that old Reichian argument abut how we shut out the real world and make zombie slaves of young minds? Even as they claim WE are bashing THEM. . . 😀

I fetched this from the NHEN “In the Public” legislative forums, to remind us and them that public schooling is in fact the Big Red Pen of Censorship and indoctrination posing as education — not happy, free, progressive family-based learning from real books and real life in all its messy complexity and diversity.

Bowdlerized school texts and canned corporate curriculum honor neither reason nor faith, diversity nor standards, neither liberal nor conservative education and human values — indeed no coherent value at all.

Why are we championing this clumsy indoctrination as education, again? Anybody? Bueller?

LANGUAGE POLICE: Cut on the Bias
BY Diane Ravitch
Ms. Ravitch is author of “The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn” (Knopf, 2003).

. . .I compiled a list of over 500 words that are banned by one or more publishers. Some are relatively obsolete, like “authoress” or “geezer,” but others are everyday words that one is likely to encounter in the newspaper, like “landlord,” “senior citizen,” “dogma,” “yacht” or “actress” (what would the late Katherine Hepburn have made of that?).

Since my book appeared, I have received a large number of letters from people in the educational publishing industry, offering fresh material about the sanitizing that occurs on a regular basis.

In Michigan, the state does not allow mention of flying saucers or extraterrestrials on its test, because those subjects might imply the forbidden topic of evolution.

A text illustrator wrote to say that she was not permitted to portray a birthday party because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in celebrating birthdays.

A contributor to a major textbook series prepared a story comparing the great floods in 1889 in Johnstown, Pa., with those in 1993 in the Midwest, but was unable to find an acceptable photograph. The publisher insisted that everyone in the rowboats must be wearing a lifevest to demonstrate safety procedures.

A freelance writer sent me the “bias guidelines” for a major publisher of texts and tests. . . All lessons, test questions, and illustrations must reflect the following ratios: 50-50 male-female; 45% Caucasian; 25% African American; 22% Hispanic American; 5% Asian American; 5% American Indian and others; and 3% “persons with disabilities.” These figures do not total 100%, nor do they represent actual U.S. Census numbers . . .

When it comes to illustrations in textbooks, certain images–women cooking, men acting assertive, scenes of poverty, and old people walking with the aid of a cane or a walker–are likewise considered unacceptable. The specifications for photographs, I have learned, are exquisitely detailed. Men and boys must not be larger than women and girls. Asians must not appear as shorter than non-Asians. Women must wear bras . . . shoelaces must be solid black, brown, or white. People must never gesture with their fingers, nor should anyone be depicted eating with the left hand.

There are so many rules, one wonders how they manage to keep track of them . . .

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6 responses

17 06 2007
Lynn

Very interesting information. From the Wild West and Rugged Individualism to this – and in such a short span of time. We’ve become so fragile, haven’t we?

17 06 2007
Doc

Greg’s no genius. He accused me of censorship because the words “blog owner is moderating comments” confused him. To make a point (which he still doesn’t understand), I moderated all his rabid comments right into the trash. Now that’s censorship.

17 06 2007
NanceConfer

Oh, we went through a whole round of this at the NHEN Forums — as any place does, I guess, in time. At NHEN, the website for the National Home Education Network, it just took us forever to realize that some people are incapable of having and expressing strong opinions in the same arena as the next guy. Of course, those who are told to go away scream “censorship” but they were not reasonable to start with. And those who want to talk in a sane way should not put up with being cornered into being polite and mealy-mouthed to every comer.

Like real life. Like just yesterday, in real life. I sat next to a woman who literally did not have a kind word to say about anything or anyone at an event for children. I moved. Not before getting in a piece of my mind 🙂 but I did move. And was pleasantly reminded that many people are actual adults as everyone else I sat next to was able to have wonderful conversations. 🙂

Nance

26 10 2007
What’s New for Halloween Power of Story? You Figure It Out! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] . .For a real school Halloween fright, see Ravitch on stamping out stereotypes at school. Or maybe this sixth-grade girl’s words will do the […]

27 09 2009
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[…] So we were saying censorship is a bad thing . . . […]

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