Censorship in the Classroom

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Censorship in the Classroom

Postby weakmagneto on April 15th, 2012, 10:16 am 

A grade 2 First Nation student wanted to explain why she could not speak her language to her class by sharing some of the history of language loss due to the residential school system. Her teacher approved the project. The next day the teacher thought the subject was inappropriate and told the student's mother.

What resulted was a meeting between the student's parents and the principal. The student felt that her story was unacceptable and unimportant. The teacher ended up reluctantly agreeing to allow the student to proceed however warning her not to scare the other students and give them nightmares.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/chelsea-vowel/residential-schools-canada_b_1385022.html

Is it right for a teacher to censor a student on a subject for a historical presentation because they fear it may scare the other students?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby weakmagneto on April 15th, 2012, 10:19 am 

In my opinion, I did consider the concern age-wise, but it seemed that the student was focusing on language loss and its related residential school effects. Considering the teacher's possible perspective based on what has been portrayed in the media, I could see her concern due to uglier highly publicized effects of sexual and physical abuse and missing/murdered children. However, she could have reviewed the written materials beforehand to alleviate those concerns and made any suggested revisions to the material with the best interest of the students in mind.

IMHO The teacher was at fault at the way she handled the situation and could have viewed it as an opportunity for her students to learn a part of history (not currently in the curriculum for that grade obviously) and work with the student to develop it into a positive learning experience for all.

Link to an essay that briefly describes First Nation language and cultural losses.
Douglas College Learning Centre
Essay on Residential Schools Language and Cultural Losses
http://www.douglas.bc.ca/__shared/assets/WR258369.pdf
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby BadgerJelly on April 15th, 2012, 11:14 am 

Exactly the same as asking Evolution to be banned from schools

NO NO NO NO NO!! We are not robots and should be able to express opinions no matter how "wrong" they may seem to one or many "individuals". If anything the entire debate should have been opened up to the entire class and not ushered out of the classroom.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Watson on April 15th, 2012, 12:00 pm 

A seven year old would be relating the presentation to other seven year old children. It would be very unlikely that she would being giving a scary presentation, or that it would be precieved as such. The teacher clearly over reacted. And doing nothing the children would have gone home, with questions then all the parents would over react.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby BadgerJelly on April 15th, 2012, 12:47 pm 

Watson wrote:A seven year old would be relating the presentation to other seven year old children. It would be very unlikely that she would being giving a scary presentation, or that it would be precieved as such. The teacher clearly over reacted. And doing nothing the children would have gone home, with questions then all the parents would over react.


Children know best :)
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby mtbturtle on April 17th, 2012, 12:25 pm 

Concerns about age appropriate material are something teachers need to consider. In this case it doesn't seems the teacher's objections had to do with the ability of the student to present the material or her classmates ability to understand it.

What has been the outcome of this situation?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Eclogite on April 18th, 2012, 3:49 am 

weakmagneto wrote:Is it right for a teacher to censor a student on a subject for a historical presentation because they fear it may scare the other students?

We are not getting a balanced view. Why did the teacher fear the presentation might scare other students? Either this was poor judgement on the part of the teacher, or there were details in the specific way the girl intended to present the information that could have been frightening. For example, portraying the government as heartless monsters who had been cruel to First Nation schoolchildren could raise the possibility that similar things could happen to the pupils in the class.

Probably, this was a case of bad judgement, but in the absence of a broader view it would be a mistake to reach a conclusion.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on April 18th, 2012, 4:50 am 

How do we get a broader view? On the one hand, I certainly agree that we, the public, can't micromanage every decision made in the classroom on what to teach but on the other hand, shouldn't there be some transparency? At what age should children be exposed to the histories of the Holocaust or slavery? Would any mention of these be too much for Grade 2?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby BadgerJelly on April 18th, 2012, 6:10 am 

Forest_Dump wrote: At what age should children be exposed to the histories of the Holocaust or slavery? Would any mention of these be too much for Grade 2?



Not sure what grade 2 is age wise?

I think bombarding children with the "darker" aspects of human nature is a good idea just before puberty so they have a more open (Less hormonal) mind. I'm no expert though but this just seems to me to be a good idea ... Problem is children develop at different paces.

A bit off topic but would like to mention this regarding the classroom environment :

Ethically I think it makes more sense to mix ages too. Maybe having a 3 year age gap instead of a one year gap so a more parental aspect can be taken on in early age. I personally think learning by teaching is a good technique (or rather collaboration). It gives a sense of purpose.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on April 18th, 2012, 7:09 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:Not sure what grade 2 is age wise?


Well, having had two daughters go through Grade 2 I would say yes I have a pretty good handle on that. And I realise that my experiences would be anecdotal and based on a minimal sample size so I am actually interested in what other parents and/or teachers might think about this. For those who have had to face racism and/or teach their kids about the darker times in history, some perhaps very personal examples (I know, for example, people whose parents or grandparents, etc., survived the Holocaust), when is it okay to share these experiences and histories with kids?

As an addendum, racism was an obvious thing to bring up since some people, depending on where they are, may face racism directly at an even younger age and so will develop ways of addressing this outside the classroom as it were. My daughters were members of a visible minority and the issue was raised but there was no need to directly address the issue because there was only once where the question of their skin colour came up in a negative way and it just didn't become an issue we couldn't meet "softly". But as I said,I know other people have had to deal with these kinds of issues in a more pronounced and unambiguous way.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby weakmagneto on April 18th, 2012, 7:24 am 

My mother is a residential school survivor who shared part of her experience with both of my children by grade 2. I educated both of them about their history and culture during these years in order to foster a strong sense of self-identity and self-esteem. It is a part of their history and its effects are still are seen widely within our family, community, region and country.

In my area, the children are around age 7 in grade 2.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby BadgerJelly on April 19th, 2012, 6:03 pm 

Drifter wrote:The educational school system is one based on censuring free speech and thought. The liberal code of negation of nature is paramount in schools due to the reason that nature, which is a corollary to truth, reveals unpleasant realities about ourselves that a morally fanatic institution attempts to regulate as to cover it up for social harmony.

These 'deviations" from the harmony or status quo of appropriateness, inspires narrow-minded typical beliefs that the students are "wrong" "troubled", even "evil". The herd then bands together to assess and correct the problem that makes them uncomfortable.

The sheep do not wish to be disturbed.


I don't think you'll find many people who disagree with that :)
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby philotic on April 19th, 2012, 7:58 pm 

I feel as though you can teach kids about most of the "darker subjects", as long as you are able to explain it to them properly. For example I have a friend who's young daughter, I feel like she was 4 at the time, got understandably scared by a horror movie that she wasn't suppose to see but did. After the mom explained that the blood was just colored corn syrup and the people were just wearing makeup, etc, the child understood and thought it was kind of fun. After that whenever she saw someone scared or nervous looking due to that kind of show she would comfort them by telling them what was really happening, "don't be scared, it's just corn syrup, they are just pretending".
I feel it's the same with difficult subjects like the Holocaust, you wouldn't go in showing all these pictures of the dead slaughtered Jewish people. You instead talk about the troubles that were going on to Germany at the time, that because of the reparations and loss that occurred before and after WWI that the German people needed something to hope for, which allowed Hitler to come into power, etc.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby CanadysPeak on April 19th, 2012, 9:41 pm 

philotic wrote:I feel as though you can teach kids about most of the "darker subjects", as long as you are able to explain it to them properly. For example I have a friend who's young daughter, I feel like she was 4 at the time, got understandably scared by a horror movie that see wasn't suppose to see but did. After the mom explained that the blood was just colored corn syrup and the people were just wearing makeup, etc, the child understood and thought it was kind of fun. After that whenever she saw someone scared or nervous looking due to that kind of show she would comfort them by telling them what was really happening, "don't be scared, it's just corn syrup, they are just pretending".
I feel it's the same with difficult subjects like the Holocaust, you wouldn't go in showing all these pictures of the dead slaughtered Jewish people. You instead talk about the troubles that were going on to Germany at the time, that because of the reparations and loss that occurred before and after WWI that the German people needed something to hope for, which allowed Hitler to come into power, etc.


When I was nineteen, I went into a jail cell beneath Mannheim and saw meat hooks still stained with the blood of the victims of German compacency and acquiesence. Those people had been hung up like cattle in an abbatoir. I still shudder at the memory of those hooks, lo these many decades later. There will be no age, I fear, at which I will be ready for that image. Better to traumatize the little ones early than to have them repeating this crap in Abu Ghraib or Maze Prison.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Magister Miguel on May 8th, 2012, 6:23 pm 

weakmagneto wrote:Is it right for a teacher to censor a student on a subject for a historical presentation because they fear it may scare the other students?


I am not sure the question can be answered in the abstract, or even that it needs to be answered in the abstract.

Children's cartoons are often more scary than adults realize, as are things told by them by other children in less controlled settings such as a playground.

So the concern about children being unduly scared seems to be unjustified on purely empirical grounds.

I suspect the real reason is that the story made the teacher uncomfortable - it is well within living memory that it was normal for children to be taken away from their parents and beaten if they tried to speak their native language. Being exposed to this knowledge may shatter some illusions about our society, an uncomfortable thing.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby mil mil on June 14th, 2012, 6:15 pm 

what i think is parents, guardians, or any older person with experience tries sometimes inevitably to prevent
a child from experiencing certain pleasures and pains. (for what reason doesn't matter because they still have no right to control how someone (like a kid especially) to focus their interests or whatever that drives us to experience) But just like any generation would probably agree (since it is always the newer generation that rebels) that we learn who we are through pleasure and pains inflicted upon us or ourselves and the pain and pleasure we inflict upon others.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on June 15th, 2012, 7:29 pm 

Perhaps to "bracket" this example there is a very recent example of a teacher who, on the request of students, showed a video of the Magnotta lunatic killing the Asian roommate in class. He was fired. So, if that was an acceptable result, where do we draw the line and who draws it? Obviously one of those very complex freedom of speech issues which gets even more complex when it is applied to the classroom.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Athena on June 15th, 2012, 10:46 pm 

Really? If I were the principal of the school, I would have the teacher in question write a paper about the meaning of democracy and the importance of freedom of speech, or start looking for another job. Every day the problems caused by our failure to educate for democracy, seem to be eating away at the fabric of our country in new areas I never considered before. Today it is not just the children who need education about democracy, but the teachers as well.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on June 17th, 2012, 3:55 pm 

Athena wrote:Really? If I were the principal of the school, I would have the teacher in question write a paper about the meaning of democracy and the importance of freedom of speech, or start looking for another job. Every day the problems caused by our failure to educate for democracy, seem to be eating away at the fabric of our country in new areas I never considered before. Today it is not just the children who need education about democracy, but the teachers as well.


Do I understand that you do not have a problem showing "snuff films" in classrooms?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Athena on June 17th, 2012, 9:15 pm 

Forest_Dump wrote:
Athena wrote:Really? If I were the principal of the school, I would have the teacher in question write a paper about the meaning of democracy and the importance of freedom of speech, or start looking for another job. Every day the problems caused by our failure to educate for democracy, seem to be eating away at the fabric of our country in new areas I never considered before. Today it is not just the children who need education about democracy, but the teachers as well.


Do I understand that you do not have a problem showing "snuff films" in classrooms?


Would you please clarify your questions? I do not understand what snuff films have to do with this thread.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby owleye on June 18th, 2012, 1:23 pm 

Athena wrote:Would you please clarify your questions? I do not understand what snuff films have to do with this thread.


Owleye here. The assumption is that the classroom is populated by children, children that we presume are to be turned into the kind of adults the society would wish for them. There is a further assumption here. Which is that children are to be protected from influences in which they aren't yet prepared to handle for themselves. Which is another way of saying that we ought to curtail the freedom of a child from gaining access to these influences -- thus, censorship.

Now, if you've read about the "Ik", a tribe in the area of Uganda, I believe, who may or may not have survived a particular famine that occurred a number of years ago (my only information is what I read in Colin Turnbull's account some number of years ago. Forest will undoubtedly know more), you will come to understand that even children as young as three-to-five have considerable survival skills, without having any education at all. They scrounge for food in gangs, for example.

So, the question then becomes, given the society we live in, what kind of education would best serve the children so that they can play the role they need to play when they are ready to play that role. How realistic of a picture of the world do you want to portray to them?

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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby moranity on June 18th, 2012, 2:19 pm 

owleye wrote:So, the question then becomes, given the society we live in, what kind of education would best serve the children so that they can play the role they need to play when they are ready to play that role. How realistic of a picture of the world do you want to portray to them?

i think that depends on how old they are, for instance belief in an afterlife can be beneficial to small children, in my experience, although its not particularly valid as a proposition. It helps "sweeten the pill" of death and none of us know, so it is not a lie. As the child grows older they generally come to question the idea of heaven when they are ready to, then ya can spring on em the wretched reality we exist in and watch them plumit into dispare, na, then ya can tell them we come and we go, if we didnt go they wouldnt have been born, death or change is essential to life etc.
generally i mean that you should protect children mentally aswell as physically, we all know that evil etc can be devastating to a mind, we shouldnt expose a child to danger unless we feel they are ready to cope.
saying that, the fact that our teachers drilled into us from about the age of 8 the horror of nuclear war, this was in the seventies, made all my peers ardent supporters of nuclear disarmament. So i'd say in certain circumstances absolute honesty may be required
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Watson on June 18th, 2012, 4:01 pm 

Athena wrote:
Forest_Dump wrote:
Athena wrote:Really? If I were the principal of the school, I would have the teacher in question write a paper about the meaning of democracy and the importance of freedom of speech, or start looking for another job. Every day the problems caused by our failure to educate for democracy, seem to be eating away at the fabric of our country in new areas I never considered before. Today it is not just the children who need education about democracy, but the teachers as well.


Do I understand that you do not have a problem showing "snuff films" in classrooms?


Would you please clarify your questions? I do not understand what snuff films have to do with this thread.


At this link, there is the story Forest is referring to.
viewtopic.php?f=130&t=22099
This idiot vidoed the killing, and other gory details I won't mention, and put it online. A teacher then thought it was ok to show it to his students. He was suspended, then fired. It sounded like you were defending the teachers right to show this film, which is not the case, I'm sure if you had been aware of the explicit content.

There are some things so inappropreate that common sense should act as the censor.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on June 18th, 2012, 4:06 pm 

Athena wrote:Would you please clarify your questions? I do not understand what snuff films have to do with this thread.


You might take another look at the post immediately before yours that I questioned. I will copy it again.

Forest_Dump wrote:Perhaps to "bracket" this example there is a very recent example of a teacher who, on the request of students, showed a video of the Magnotta lunatic killing the Asian roommate in class. He was fired. So, if that was an acceptable result, where do we draw the line and who draws it?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby mtbturtle on June 18th, 2012, 6:09 pm 

The thread started with a teacher restricting the speech of a student. This is distinctly different from a school restricting a teacher from showing snuff films.

(I could see similar material being used in college courses in the US).
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Watson on June 18th, 2012, 7:22 pm 

(I could see similar material being used in college courses in the US).



Pretty sure not. The police that had to watch the video as part of the investigation, were sick from what they saw.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Athena on June 18th, 2012, 11:23 pm 

Forest_Dump wrote:
Athena wrote:Would you please clarify your questions? I do not understand what snuff films have to do with this thread.


You might take another look at the post immediately before yours that I questioned. I will copy it again.

Forest_Dump wrote:Perhaps to "bracket" this example there is a very recent example of a teacher who, on the request of students, showed a video of the Magnotta lunatic killing the Asian roommate in class. He was fired. So, if that was an acceptable result, where do we draw the line and who draws it?


The line is drawn at human decency, and it is very sad we no longer have agreement on where that line is drawn. To say more is to get into the question of the decline of civilization in the US. Something of which I am more convinced everyday.

Personally, I think it was wrong to ever add freedom of expression to the notion of freedom of speech. Democracy is rule by reason, therefore, speech, the freedom to argue a point, must be protected, but films of people doing indecent things, and acts like burning the flag, are not arguments, in the sense of presenting reasoning that can be argued, therefore, such should not be a protected freedom.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Forest_Dump on June 20th, 2012, 6:19 pm 

I think my point is that everyone has different opinions on what is decent, etc., as well as what counts as freedom of speech or expression. Personally, I find things like violence, expressions of intolerance, etc., to be more problematic than anything like public nudity or burning a flag. Either of the latter would not get a second look from me (who cares if a colourful piece of fabric was burning?). But, on the other hand, I am constantly shocked at the amount of intolerance for different religions, political affiliations, etc.

The Magnotta snuff film is disturbing, of course, and should not be shown in school but how different is it from "The Silence of the Lambs" or countless slasher movies (usually marketed at teens) or even countless war movies or video games? Why would we let kids play some of the killing video games but not hear real history about people being blocked from using their native language?
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby Watson on June 21st, 2012, 3:03 pm 

Why would we let kids play some of the killing video games but not hear real history about people being blocked from using their native language?


The fact that the snuff video is real and not stagged, not to mention the content, makes it worse to view that some hollywood version. But back to the OP, I don't think it is a "we" question. This was a knee-jerk reaction by the teacher who was reacting in error. Seems like when the "we" are involved the answer is, let the child share her story.
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Re: Censorship in the Classroom

Postby mtbturtle on June 21st, 2012, 3:06 pm 

What if the child was sharing the snuff video?
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