Book Banning vs. Responsible Educating

Warning: The link discussed  in this post contains explicit passages from books assigned to high school classes in various school across the country.

I was made aware of this Federalist article by a fellow home school mother, blogger and literary thinker. I am glad she sent it to me since the holiday coupled with some other issues has led to a book blog that is quickly growing cobwebs. I am reading a very intriguing book at present. Expect a review by Monday. Meanwhile, let’s talk education and literature.

The gist of the article is that there are many high school English Literature teachers assigning books to students based not on literary greatness, but on awards, cultural relevance, and the popularity of the authors assigned. In fact, the great books, as agreed on by readers and literary experts across the board, are largely ignored in most high school English classes today.

Prominently featured in the article were the frequently assigned works of Toni Morrison, among others. I am largely unfamiliar with the other authors mentioned, but I am quite familiar with Morrison. Having read several of her books before I decided to shun the Black feminist “genre” more than a decade ago, I can say unequivocally that there are better books teachers can use to expose children to the realities of sexuality and race without resorting to the nonsense combined with smut often found in Toni Morrison’s books.

Yes, I know that she is an acclaimed writer who has won both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes for her work. I am not even insinuating that Morrison’s writing is without any redeeming value, but it’s ideologically unsound and explicit in ways that 14 and 15 year old students need not be exposed to. There are better works of fiction which induce students to higher levels of thinking while exploring the same themes.

Our experience with our children was that they were rarely assigned any books to read at all! The one or two they were assigned were not as objectionable as the books detailed in the Federalist article. I reviewed what they were assigned and double checked with them before I wrote this post, and they confirmed that on the rare occasion that they were assigned entire works of literature, there were few if any passages explicitly sexual in nature. None of it was classic literature, however.

Their exposure to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,  Austen, Dostoyevsky, Hurston, Booker T. Washington and C.S. Lewis was instigated because and only because they grew up in a home where there were bookshelves lined with great literature.

It’s not surprising that the few teachers who assign books are doing so with a specific agenda to pollute the minds and dilute the moral resoluteness of their students.

Consider this a PSA if you have kids in public high school.

O/T: Limited Time Sweet Deal

I suspect that very few of you who read here have children as young as my youngest children.

However, for those of you homeschooling elementary aged children, I wanted to pass this information on to you. I am terribly lazy about checking my email, so I only took note of this a few hours ago, and I jumped on it.

Today is the last day to order anything produced by Engaging Lessons through Currclick for only .05! The way I figured it, spending 2.00 for 40 education downloads was a pretty good deal. It was the perfect way to dispose of a stray gift card SAM had languishing in his wallet.

If you’re interested, act fast and click here.

Enjoy your weekend!

Ready to Run

ready to run Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally, by Kelly Starrett, originally published in 2014.

I know that Jenny is eagerly anticipating my review of this book, so I’m going to do that and then do her one better. I could have skipped the book and got a lot of what I learned from the book right here.

When I was preparing this review I wanted to share the relevant and worthwhile information I gleaned, and so went looking to see if Starrett’s 12 standards for being ready to run were somewhere on the web, and there they were. You can get almost everything you need to know right there and skip the book.

All that said, I did enjoy the book a great deal. It was written in an engaging conversational tone that made it a quick read, which is good for these types of books. Starrett, a CrossFit gym owner, seems to be a guy who knows how to cut to the chase. Again, a good characteristic for a book written specifically for those of us interested in running without injury minus the fluff. In fact, the suggestions and standards offered in Ready to Run are suitable for improved motion and exercise in general, not just running.

Starrett starts out his book by debunking the myth that running is a terrible form of exercise which wrecks our knees and joints. On the contrary, he argues that evolution created us in such a way that running should come naturally to us, an activity that we should be able to perform with vigor most of our lives. After all, our ancient forbears ability to run and run well was often the difference between life and death.

Leaving aside any theological differences I may have had with his presentation of this argument, I think he has a point when he asserts that years of sitting (at desks, in cars, and on couches) from age 5 onward changes what our bodies conform to and what they are able to perform. Years of studying the mechanics of human motion led Starrett to believe that if we are conscious in our efforts to develop his 12 standards, we should be able to enjoy running with very little fear of injury.

One of the bones of contention I had with him was his recommendation of electrolyte tablets such as Nuun as a way to keep our hydration levels up. I have it on good authority that such supplements are truly wonder working, but for those of us on a budget, they are a non starter. I was hit with sticker shock before I left the vitamin store, without the hydration tablets. Just have to work harder to get in my 80 ounces a day.

The other thing that was extremely helpful to me as a novice runner who doesn’t ever intend to run any more than 4 miles as a matter of course, was the idea of running in flat shoes. Almost all running shoes have some degree of arch support which slightly elevates the heel above the rest of the foot, which is not natural.

Overall, I liked the book and learned a lot from it. You however, can learn just as much from following the link to Starrett’s 12 standards for running.

Grade: B+





The Gardener

the gardener bookThe Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. Originally published in 1997. A Caldecott Honor book.

This is a children’s picture book that we used in my 2nd/3rd grade home school cooperative class. I’m reviewing it here primarily because I think it would be an excellent book to use in almost any early elementary home school curriculum. After a brief synopsis of the book and grade, I plan to share some of the learning activities our class did which were inspired by this book.

It’s 1935, and Lydia Grace Finch’s father is out of work. The supplemental family income provided by her mother’s work as a seamstress has also dried up. The family is in a hard place. They live in the country, but Lydia Grace’s uncle owns a bakery in the city and is not being hit as hard by the Great Depression. He sends for Lydia Grace to come and live with him and work in his bakery until her parents get back on their feet.

The story of Lydia Grace’s time with her uncle is told via a series of letters that Lydia Grace writes; first to her uncle in anticipation of her trip to the city, and then back home to her parents and grandmother after she moves in with her uncle in the big city.

Although it’s a picture book, it is well written and contains lessons on family caring for family, making the best of a bad situation, and the importance of showing kindness and gratitude.

Grade: B+

Learning opportunities our class gleaned from the book:

  • Over view of life during The Great Depression
  • The difference between communication today verses the 1930’s
  • The students learned to write a letter, which many of them mailed to relatives far away.
  • The difference between rural life and city life
  • The importance of extended family caring for one another
  • Vocabulary
  • Games and toys from the 1930’s (a co-teacher was able to provide several examples)
  • Bible directives on the importance of gratitude and kindness

If you have read the book with your children before, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it for the benefit of other parents who may be reading. Our 7-year-old enjoyed it and learned a great deal.