i'm a teacher:
shooting people is bad
Is it just me or do a lot of students dislike the novels they must read while slothing through the English curriculum? I'm not saying all the choices are bad (or even if students still hate the books - I left the school system many years ago), I, myself, am a fan of Shakespeare and Dickens. In my schooling years though, I discovered that more and more English class novels are those that have that shiny gold star or 30 or so newspapers have "critically acclaimed". Some of them, I'll grant, are quite good. But the question remains, does a gold star mean a book is enjoyable to read or just "grammatically and morally correct?"
A lot of students fall into two categories: they like to read (but not the books force fed onto them by their teacher), or they hate to read, probably because all the books they've been exposed to have "sucked ass". Generally, people like to read novels that "hold" them, not those that tell them how to solve or go about resolving a moral problem. Didn't A SEPARATE PEACE teach us how to be trustworthy and not to participate in stupid dares? And RAISIN IN THE SUN taught us that African-American's have feelings and views too? Wait, didn't we already know this?
Why aren't we reading THE CAT IN THE HAT, where the kids try to maintain some semblance of normalcy as the bad cat goes around screwing things up? Or HORTON HEARS A WHO, which tells us that no matter how small (or how differently colored), there is always someone else beside us.
It seems to me that every novel force fed to students has some sort of special message to make us all better people. Well, if we take this Littleton crap into perspective, then they ain't working, bub. (Side note: please, please, please do not respond saying that Littleton was due to lack of gun control. Hell, it has nothing to do with book control either, but it was an example most could relate to.)
As much as teachers and professors mean well (well, except for those that smoke in the lounge and then attend rally's to stop teenage smoking - that shit is whack), all of their methods will fail unless there is interest. No one cares about the rodeo from A YELLOW RAFT ON BLUE WATER if they hated the first person perspective, page one.
Teachers, being forced into a curriculum as much as students are, need to be a bit crafty. Grab books which are damn good, yet which prove something. Some recommendations: BRAVE NEW WORLD (already in some schools and should stay), FRANKENSTEIN (you ain't god, motherfool, quickie: who can tell me the alternative title?), SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (things could get worse, stop complaining, and so it goes), STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (need I?), BATTLEFIELD EARTH (well, this is probably too long for most students, but damn, talk about going from day one to day one thousand), PLAYER PIANO (yeah, I have a hard-on for Vonnegut, shut up, rebuke the system and your destiny-ish) and more. I'm not the most well read, mind you, but these are just novels currently on my shelf.
If school is about expanding your horizons, then novels which stretch the imagination should, theoretically, be more appropiate. As well, if teachers are so hyped up about creative writing, shouldn't they at least give us pieces of work that illustrate some of the more creative factions of fiction?
The hardest part though, is convincing the schooled youths that the books I've mentioned are actually good, enjoyable reading. Most have, as group stereotype number two, already shut their eyes in sleepy derision.
what we call equality
by John Treacy
The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act states that to discriminate in private is legal, but anything regarding business or public discrimination is illegal. In a roundabout way, this created what we now call "affirmative action". Many have come to blame all disturbances in the work place on the combination of these two words. While job exportation, dwindling benefits and stationary pay rates existed before affirmative action, much of the white male work force has characteristically elected to blame these trends on affirmative action. White male's discriminating and blaming their downfalls on minorities... I guess this generation didn't want to rock the boat too much by making any steps towards equality.
I constantly hear the argument of "the right man for the job", wherein a person regardless of race or gender is placed in an open position. We all know that "the right man for the job" really means the white man for the job. This was the way it was. In the hundred and fifty some odd years after the "freeing" of slaves in America, public discrimination was as wide spread as patriotism and usually mingled into one juggernaut of Eurocentric nationalist pride. When affirmative action was introduced, the federal government basically said "those in positions of job placement can't handle their responsibility". That is exactly right. Equality didn't exist in the work place so it had to be forced upon white America. After almost three decades, this hasn't changed. If the laws keeping affirmative action in place were to be rolled back, we would plummet into the same hole we were in.
While many say that affirmative action is special treatment and that the majority of people in this country are open-minded and willing to work with people without considering their sex or color, they're missing the big picture. The problem isn't co-worker relations... it's the hiring process. If somebody doesn't like working with other human beings they feel are somehow different, then they can exit stage left. The problem is the hiring official for a company discriminating against certain groups of people. This would prevent those groups from a fair shot at that job. And I'd really like to know when being eligible for a job was deemed "special treatment".
The feeling that affirmative action simply changes who is discriminated against, making it legal for the new discriminators, is simply appalling. The truth is that racial, religious, and sexual discrimination will never cease and thus the need for affirmative action will always be there. The social ideals of equality were set into motion but we just couldn't handle it. And the argument against affirmative action is proof.
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Yes, you have captured the ambience perfusing media in our country pretty well. It is no doubt flawed, and worse, even intentionally designed to create an effect in the partaker, which effect is similar to that produced by thorazine. Thus the person who is most heavily influenced by the media is also the one most sedated. Isn't that the real intention, to sedate with whatever drug works, be it violence, mediocrity, antisociality, lewd sex. . .whatever? Nice job of observation! Too bad, though. . .like relativity, the truth is always distorted when examined.
I hope you get this e-mail. I am a white female. From my point for the last 5 years or longer, I have seen reverse discrimination. People want to get their "quota". Black males & especially black females are more likely to get jobs that have testing done. It wouldn't matter much to me except for the fact that my husband did so well on test for the big 3 companies & didn't get in because he was overqualified!!!! He worked in a small town dealership in the parts department! I am glad to say now, he works for the post office !!!! Thanks for listening.
I would just like to say that when I was growing up, I was exposed or exposed myself to violent movies and video games ranging from the rather harmless to the rather gory. With my computer and the BBSs of the times, and with books and leaflets that any teen could get their hands on if they tried a little, I had complete knowledge of how to kill efficiently with my bare hands or with easily fashioned crude implements, and I had full knowlege to build a bomb. Several tdypes of bombs. Long before the Internet existed to the general public. Many, many, many types of bombs, boody traps, mines, etc, etc, etc. And just like in any normal american household, I had the supplies to do a large portion of them (ever *really* look at the cleaners under the sink?). Did I also mention that I'm pretty much not religious at all?
I am 25 now, and I have never built one. I have never killed anyone. I never went on a murderous rampage, slaughtering anyone I saw. Was I ever tempted to do so? Of course, and plenty of times. High school and the IRS are all anyone need for a reason. But I never did, because I chose, with my own brain, to do nothing of the sort. (For those wondering, I'm no pacifist pansy, either, I beat the crap outta many, many fellow (jerk) students during my 6th and 7th grade years. Not killed them, just whacked them around quite a bit until they decided picking on me was not a viable option anymore. No weapons, either - that's not right.)
Long ago, my father took me aside one day to nicely point out that was I saw and heard on TV, or on my games, or on my tapes, was nice and all, as long as I kept it straight that it was not real. Real people have mothers, fathers, perhaps girlfriends, wives, and/or kids of their own, are each a huge investment of resources and time in education, and that there are DAMN few reasons to kill one.
Warning labels? Hmmmm, maybe. Can't hurt.
I don't think the answer is religion, either. I don't have any, and that doesn't stop me from having my own set of values, my own feelings of what is right and what is wrong. Religion is fine and all for most, but it's really not the only way to learn what's wrong and what's right.
I really think that one of the best solutions I can think of is exactly what my father did. Sat me down and told me, nicely, without me having to be in trouble first, what he felt is acceptable, what is unacceptable, what is downright wrong, and what qualifies as evil, in clear and simple terms. I did the same for my little sister. She's got the same knowlege and skills as I have, and she too
Have kids? Have you said anything meaningful to them in a while? Maybe you should. Soon.
why didn't i ever read william faulkner or jeffrey archer in school... maybe if a bukowski novel was available to some of the students they might not be as screwed up... or possibly more. who knows. books like THE PEARL never really expanded my mind. i think i got most of my education on my own. and still working on it.
I just wanted to comment on the great issue of "Devil Shat" that I just read. I too had to read "A Raisin In The Sun," "Yellow Raft on Blue Water" and countless other books mentioned in the first article (possible because Morbus and I went to the same high school). The only English class I ever really enjoyed that involved required reading was my junior year American Literature class. I enjoyed this class because the teacher Mr. Pingree (possibly, in my humble opinion, one of the best teachers at CHS) did say to us you will read these books. He gave us a list, approximately three or four pages in length possibly more I don't recall, of books and said I expect you to read at least "X" number (again I don't recall the exact number as I graduated about four years ago) of books from this list. I thought this was great because it turned me on to Vonneget, and many of my now favorite books came from that list. Books like PEYTON PLACE, DINNER AT THE HOMESICK CAFE, and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST, would not have fit into a regular English Class, because they have lessons that are hard for everyone (even learned English Teacher) to discern. Mr. Pingree was not trying to force feed us morals through the use of literature he was trying to get us to enjoy reading for just that the reading. I have many friends that would not have ever picked up another book after high school if it wasn't for that class. I dot read as much as I used to but when I do pick up a book at the local book store I try to remember what Mr. Pingree told us day one of class "This list is here to give you an idea of what else is out there besides the latest John Grisham or Michael Chriton novel. This list is here to broaden your reading horizons and, if you do not read on a regular basis, to maybe help you find a genre or author that you do like to read." Thank you once again for the great issue I cant wait for the next one.