Friday, May 30, 2014

A Difficulty with Required Reading

The New York Times has an article here about a group of students demanding that college professors be more sensitive to subject matter that will cause distress to some of their students.  Most of the comments in the comment section thought this was unnecessary.

College is voluntary, and the students attending are adults.  So I can see the sense in saying they should either deal with the subject matter, or drop the course.

But what about high school?  When I was teaching high school English, there were books in the curriculum that were very upsetting to some students.  One girl came to me in tears because her class was reading Ellen Foster, a book about a father who sexually assaults his daughter.  I knew there was a restraining order against this student's father, because of his assault of her.  I told her she could ask her teacher for another book to read, but she said, "But then everyone will know."

When I taught, my students had wide choice about what to read.  Not only did this make it much more likely that they would enjoy their reading, and actually do it, it prevented situations like the one above. 

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