Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel

Subject: Re: language and such in the classroom

From: Marilyn Secor (msecor@luxcasco.k12.wi.us)
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 18:20:22 EDT


Betsy,

I also think that the teacher sets the tone when it comes to handling sexual innuendos and profanity. I admit, however, that I sidestep these issues as much as possible in 7th grade Lit. Sometimes when reading aloud (whether students are reading along or not), I delete offensive words. If they catch me, they usually just exchange glances and let it go. It saves me a lot of grief, although I'm not sure the authors would see it my way.

We have, at times, discussed why a certain character talks this way. If a character swears only when frustrated about a certain topic, for instance, that sheds light on his personality and values. In the book we are reading now, a man only swears when talking about the War; the situation makes him feel frustrated and powerless, and words are the only weapons he has.

I am now in the process of choosing a new class novel. It seems more difficult for me this time around because of recent zero tolerance policies in schools; I'd prefer not to teach something likely to prompt violent or politically incorrect student comments.
For instance, although I think that Killing Mr. Griffin is a wonderful novel that teaches valuable lessons and have read it aloud to classes in the past, I will not choose it as an assigned class novel in light of all the school violence in recent years. I will continue to recommend it to individual students to read on their own...

I also find myself rejecting novels with excessive profanity and sexual innuendos. Given two novels of equal merit, I will choose the less offensive one. We had a censorship battle in our district a few years ago, and it wasn't pretty... I'd hate to set off that sort of situation.

Marilyn


 

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