Sunday, September 19, 2010

In which I Ask WTF is Wrong with People?

So, finally accessing wifi at the local pub where a friend of mine works, I was able to see the blogisphere all flustered over an article that was published in Springfield Missouri by a professor from Missouri State University. After reading the original article and the responses all over the internet, I have developed some responses of my own.

In order to get you up to speed if you’re like me and only just found out about the issue from reading this post:

1. A professor wrote this article while clearly under the influence of a strong dose of stupidity. I think it’s been determined as a lethal dosage.

2. He wants books banned in schools. Books that have the ability to change the life of the reader and make them think differently about everything.

3. He seems to not be up-to-date with society in general.

There are a few other points, but those are the main ones. And from my flippanty, don’t think that I’m making light of the situation. However, I don’t think that the language I used while speaking of it a few minutes ago to a friend is appropriate on my blog. If you throw in just about every cuss word that you can think of, multiply that by 253 and you’ll be close to how I felt when I first found out about this abomination of an article.

So, let us get down to the nitty gritty and I’m going to address the facts at hand in the order that they appear in the article.

Read original article here

A person can review a curriculum all they want, but when that person is a university professor (god only knows how he has the brains to be one) their field really doesn’t translate to that of younger students. I would think that a university professor would be in the mind-set that their students are sexually active and have only become so within the last few years; heaven forbid that it happened in high school though. If this guy is a uber-Christian as he comes up, I’m sure that he’s under the impression that all people wait until marriage or else they’re damned to the fiery pits of hell.

But I digress. Statistics clearly can show that the age that children are becoming sexually active has sky-rocketed. If talk-shows have taught me anything, it’s this. Thus, it would only make sense that the school board, who is responsible for sexual education, to start teaching children about it at younger ages as well. While I’m not lobbying for kindergarteners to learn the mechanics and how to properly put on a condom, older students still within the elementary and middle school ages need to be taught this. In the article Scroggins says that eighth-graders “are being introduced to concepts such as homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex and specific instructions on how to use a condom and have sex”. Personally, I think that it’s a gross exaggeration that they’re being taught how to have sex; I’m sure that their text book isn’t the Karma Sutra or anything. Besides, if kids want to know anything all they have to do is pick up a Cosmopolitan magazine and read about it in there. Every month boasts some article about the vag and how to wield it over the peen. Not to mention everything else is promotes. And unlike the nudy magazines, there’s no age limit for purchase. Personally, I think that eighth graders should be taught how to put on a condom purely so that they’re going to know how to do it properly when the time comes and it decreases the risk that there will be negative repercussions from improper condom use.

Scroggins then moves on to the fourth grade where they’re teaching all about reproduction. I went to a Catholic school and we learned about all this in fourth grade too. It might have even started in third. Regardless, any child with a younger sibling is going to know all about reproduction and what it produces. Besides, even if they don’t, it’s about time that they know the answer to “where babies come from”. If I was a parent and couldn’t find the words to tell my kid about all this when they asked, I would be more than happy that my tax money went to the schools and the teaching of sexual education.

Then comes the “soft pornography” allegations, which should not be taken lightly. Of the three books mentioned – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – I’ve only read Slaughterhouse Five and it was for my first year English lit class. However, I don’t remember being disgusted by the book in any way; in fact, it made me think, which is why it was chosen for the curriculum. The “profane language” didn’t faze me since it’s not as if it wasn’t something that I had never heard on cable TV and the whole part about the “naked men and women together in cages” is this: aliens abducted the main character and a Hollywood starlet and placed them in a zoo on another planet. When compared to our Earthly society, there’s a zoo in every major city (just about) where there are *gasp* NAKED ANIMALS since they don’t wear clothing unless forced. In said zoos, people can watch the animals procreate and make cute little baby animals... which is what happened in this book. The two are one and the same; we are an alien species to animals where as in the book the aliens were an alien species to the humans. Sure, with the language I wouldn’t have some elementary school have this book on its reading list, but I wouldn’t blink twice about it being on a high school one. After all, this book would be available to anyone of any age from the public library.

As for the other books, I can’t really say anything about them but I would never, from what I have learned about them, describe them as pornography. Sex is natural. It happens in schools all over the world and sometimes it leads to people getting hurt. To write about such an event is something that I personally would never have the guts to do since I would imagine that it would take a lot out of the author. It would be more emotional to write it than to read it, but nothing would trump how it would feel first-hand. To have such books available allows readers to experience something that might be completely different from them, and for others it might offer solace after having experienced it themselves.

Besides, any book that SHOWS the characters using a condom should be commended since the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is such a problem.

But then he brings religion into it saying “This is unacceptable, considering that most of the school board members and administrators claim to be Christian. How can Christian men and women expose children to such immorality”. I went to Catholic school and saw firsthand what sex ed was like when they taught us only about STDs. There were no less than a dozen girls who ended up pregnant in the time that I was there, one being my own relation, and there were countless more who probably got an abortion. Our education wasn’t enough to fully prepare a person and look what happened. We weren’t even taught about birth control of any kind and, instead, were told to just not do it; that abstinence was the only way to go. Sure, it’s the only 100% effective form of birth control, but what high school students are going to wait when their hormones are running on overdrive? Almost no one made it out with their V-card still in their possession. Luckily, there were books and movies and television shows that made the average student rather informed when it came to sex.

What is all comes down to, is that expression is a freedom that all North Americans have and it was within this guy’s right to express himself. However, it seems as though he’s talking out of his ass and not taking into consideration the fact that society has changed even within the last ten years. Children are growing up a hell of a lot faster than they used to and the more that there is out there for them to read and learn, the better. It also seems, to me, as though he’s trying to forcibly shove his beliefs down the throats of everyone around him, which is never cool. And a large case of incurable bigotry on top of everything else is never attractive.

Also, head over to Mindful Musings and read what other people have to say on the issue at hand. You can even respond and add your post to the Mr. Linky there.


Natalie said...

This is a very well-written post. You make a lot of excellent points. Thanks for having the guts to share your opinions!

Chelle said...

I agree with your overall sentiment. His expectations are not realistic nor a good idea. He is obviously basing his impressions of "Speak" on the movie, which I haven't seen. But the book is NOT soft-porn. It is very serious and doesn't take sex lightly. It's about empowering yourself to defend yourself! And there's nothing wrong with that.

My only concern is with last two sentences. As a uber-Christian myself I take offense to my faith being linked to bigotry. My faith does not support bigotry. Only people can be bigots, not a faith. It is dangerous to assume that because this man identifies himself as a Christian that is why he's a bigot. He is a bigot who just happens to be a Christian. I believe he is sincere and really thinks such books will be our doom.

People like him will not be swayed by posts like yours. You are preaching to the choir (those like us who already believe in freedom of information). I think we need to take this conversation to another level, don't you? I like the parts in your post where you point out specifically why Slaughterhouse 5 is great and should be allowed in schools. That's constructive. As a nation and a reading community, we need more constructivism instead of pointing out each others' flaws. =)