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16 October 2017 - Mississippi School Takes "To Kill A Mockingbird" Off Reading List

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list
Guardian staff and agencies (The Guardian, 14/10/2017)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel about racism and the American south, has been removed from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district because the language in the book “makes people uncomfortable”.

Kenny Holloway, vice-president of the Biloxi School Board, told the newspaper: “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books. It’s still in our library. But they’re going to use another book in the 8th-grade course.”

Read on...


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Racist Language
 
The ironic, enduring legacy of banning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ for racist language
Avi Selk (The Washington Post, 15/10/2017)
 
The public school district in Biloxi, Miss., did not specify which words, exactly, in “To Kill a Mockingbird” are so objectionable that the book was yanked from an eighth-grade reading list last week, 57 years after it published.

“There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable,” school board vice president Kenny Holloway vaguely told the Sun Herald.

Some language. Maybe it’s the same language that concerned a Waukegan, Ill., school system in 1984; or a middle school principal in North Carolina in 2004; or Virginia’s tiny Accomack County School District when it cleansed its libraries of “Mockingbird” last year.


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Complaints

School District Pulls To Kill a Mockingbird: It “Makes People Uncomfortable”
Daniel Politi (Slate, 15/10/2017)
 
The Biloxi school district in Mississippi has decided to remove To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list. The reason? Some of the book’s language “makes people uncomfortable,” the vice president of the school board, Kenny Holloway, said. “There were complaints about it,” he added, “and we can teach the same lesson with other books.” The administrator insisted kids could still go to the library to read the book “but they're going to use another book in the 8th grade course.”

Although the school administrator doesn’t say it, a parent who first contacted the Sun Herald with the news of the apparent mid-year shift in the reading list said the decision to pull the book was “due to the use of the ‘N’ word.”

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American Classic

We Shouldn't Always Feel Comfortable: Why Mockingbird Matters
Christina Torres (Education Week, 15/10/2017)
 
So, a confession: To Kill a Mockingbird is not my favorite book to teach.

Don't get me wrong-- I have a lot of affection for the book. I read it as a ninth-grader (though, even then, its magic didn't make sense). I've taught it for four years now, largely using Facing History's brilliant "Teaching Mockingbird" Curriculum. I have a powerful experience whenever I teach the book.

Still, I'm just making clear that I'm not a die-hard "TKAM" fan. I think the first few chapters can feel really slow for kids (I know, Lee is world-building, but it's hard to see that at 14 and it feels long). I think Atticus Finch, as brilliant a character as he is, falls into some dangerous "white savior" tropes (something that both the Facing History curriculum and this fantastic lesson from Teaching Tolerance that I'm literally using this week help try and combat) that need to be discussed and dissected.

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Last update October 16, 2017
Créé le October 16, 2017
ISSN 2107-7029
DGESCO Clé des Langues