Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Banned Books Week and the other side of the coin of intellectual freedom

Along with libraries, bookstores, and readers all over the country, the 5-6s (along with Sam, Jason, and I) celebrated their freedom to read by talking about Banned Books Week, censorship, and intellectual freedom last week.

I've been teaching about Banned Books Week for many years and I always love the ideas that come out of this discussion. However, during this past week's 5-6 lesson, the conversation went in a direction in which, in my teaching, it has never gone. In talking about what it means to have the freedom to choose what we read, one student pointed out that the flip side of this is that people also have the freedom to publish books that contain false information or stereotypes. We then talked about how intellectual freedom protects those people and their books, too.

This conversation challenged us to think about why people have this freedom and what that means for us as readers. Banned Books Week gave us a chance to pause and consider what it means to recognize that people whose worldview conflicts with our own have the right to theirs, too. Then, of course, the challenge becomes how best to approach these people/books/ideas in a civil, yet assertive and proactive, way.

The topic of civil political discourse has come up in my own class (the 7-8s) and I know it's come up in other classrooms at SK, too. The more opportunities we have to work through these difficult questions together, as a community, the better.

Hooray for Banned Books Week and fascinating conversations,

Rachel

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