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Banning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Since It Makes You Uncomfortable Isn’t How You Find Out

Garris Landon Stroud is a teacher in Greenville, Kentucky, and was newly named a 2017-18 Kentucky State Teacher Fellow. He blogs at KentuckySchoolTalk.org. Full profile →

Biloxi, Mississippi, made news once its public school district pulled Harper Lee’s timeless “To Kill a Mockingbird” from its eighth-grade reading list earlier this month. When pressed, the Biloxi School Board stated that the acclaimed Southern novel was pulled bereason some parental fees and also students felt uncomfortable via it being taught at the eighth-grade level, offered its themes of inequality and racism and the difficult language that Lee supplies to explore those principles.

As a Southern teacher myself, I’m really interested in figuring out why specific themes and also language produce this sense of discomfort for students and their parental fees. Let me be clear—this doesn’t suppose teachers should embrace dispute simply for the sake of being controversial.

However before, world often experience the a lot of growth once they are in cases that make them uncomfortable. When it involves “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I think we need to take on that discomfort in order to really appreciate the lessons of prejudice and inetop quality that it desires our students to learn.

Why It Happened

First, let’s explore what this “discomfort” really is. Kenny Hollomethod, the vice president of the Biloxi School Board, defined the decision to ban “To Kill a Mockingbird” pretty simply: “Tright here were complaints around it. Tbelow is some language in the book that makes human being uncomfortable, and we can teach the very same lesson with various other books.”

This mostly refers to Lee’s use of “the n-word” nearly 50 times throughout the novel. It’s offered mainly in dialogue, and also it’s never censored. This is problematic for some institution districts, and I have the right to watch why administrators are skeptical to let eighth-graders read novels with that type of language.

The language isn’t the only controversy in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” though.

If you haven’t check out the novel, it deals with a young girl called Scout and her coming of age in a 1930s Alabama tvery own referred to as Maycomb. When Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, Maycomb’s respected attorney, agrees to protect a Babsence guy accsupplied of raping a White woman, Scout quickly comes to realize the role that racism and inequality play in Maycomb eexceptionally day.

In addition to the language provided in the book, these really difficult themes and also situations complicate the issue all the even more. It’s not difficult to imagine why “To Kill a Mockingbird” is among the many banned standards of all time.

Even still, tright here are some educators favor me who feel that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is distinctive in its treatment of racial inequality, and also who argue that rerelocating the book from analysis classes robs students of a rich possibility to think critically about inetop quality, racism and also the method they affect society in means that are not always evident.

In other words, we think the discomfort that “To Kill a Mockingbird” may cause is worth it because of the useful lessons the book teaches.

Why It Matters

In the words of the novel’s hero, Atticus Finch, “You never really understand also a perboy until you take into consideration points from his allude of view…Until you climb into his skin and also walk roughly in it.”

I think Atticus’ statement sheds some light on a really important goal of education—to help students understand and also be taken by their peers. As an educator in the South, I attempt to consider all the approaches, individual experiences and social backgrounds that are represented in my classroom.

I strive to recognize the difficult battles that have been dealt with for equality in our institutions and communities, and I believe that there is necessarily some level of discomfort connected in that. That’s what makes “To Kill a Mockingbird” so crucial.

If we look previous its language, we watch situations that really encourage readers to think critically about how misjudgments have the right to impact the resides of innocent civilization, and also on a bigger scale, exactly how those misjudgments might affect a society’s view of a whole group of world.

In a recent intersee via the LA Times, Biloxi student Sadye Saunders from the Biloxi institution district puts it best: “This is crucial, because censorship blinds us. These books are essential, because they are not condoning this word, this racial slur…They’re reflecting the ignorance of using that word and having actually this bigotry.”

We constantly argue that we desire education to prepare students for “the actual people,” but the reality is that the actual people is filled through its very own share of inecharacteristics and injustices. And for civilization who resolve those things on a daily basis, I bet they’re pretty uncomfortable, as well.

Photo by Kristin, CC-licensed.

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Better Conversation, Alabama, Banned Books, Biloxi, Book Club, Books, Garris Landon Stroud, Harper Lee, Mississippi, racism, Social Justice Publication List, Teacher Voice, To Kill a Mockingbird

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