Sunday, September 24, 2006

Critical Thinkers Don't Miss the Point

Yesterday marked the beginning of the American Library Assocation's Banned Books Week. In an article for the Charlotte Observer, one teacher eloquently talks about why she hopes her students are reading banned books. It is her opinion that many books that are challenged are "intensely moral ones," a view that may challenge people who favour the banning of books to look more closely at the issue.

Teacher Kay McSpadden believes that "regardless of the specific charge against a book, the underlying issue is almost always an offense to the reader's sense of cultural propriety. " She goes on to argue that, "People who challenge books worry not only that their culture is slipping beyond their control, but they believe that books can have a pernicious effect on readers."

She acknowledges the power of words to hurt or heal, but weighs that against the principle of free speech and the ability of people in a democracy to make informed decisions for themselves. She believes that students will "get it."

Students who have the freedom to read and who have been encouraged to think critically don't miss the point. They can see through the temporal issues of culture to the eternal concerns of what it means to be human, and they discover their own humanity in the words of people close and far, known and unusual.

I say, "Well said!"

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