The dark side of censorhip: bad books
As a journalist for the better part of 30 years (not counting the samizdat paper I wrote and published (on my dad's mimeograph machine) in my high school seminary), I worship our first amendment.? And as a student of the French Revolution and its pre-guillotine press, I'm also a big fan of Monsieur Voltaire and his famous utterance, to the effect, `I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right say it.'
Does this mean I believe in an unfettered web in our schools, the subject of an interesting report by Winnie Hu in today's New York Times?
Well, I think I would agree with William Fitzhugh, the respected editor of The Concord Review, who told Hu,? ?I think students should have unfettered access to the library."
In other words, we have a much huger problem than the kind of Internet censorship that Banned Websites Awareness Day seems to be worried about.? A glance at school curricula, summer reading lists, or what pass as textbooks these days, indicate that our educators are already doing a pretty good job of censorship, keeping children from THE BEST of what our civilization has produced over the last couple thousand years.? I often quote from Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, wherein an English teacher answered the budding writer's question about what he should read: ?The great books, Mr. Conroy, and nothing but the great books. There isn't time for anything else.?
What's a great book? you ask?? Well, like the pornography that proliferates on our unfettered Worldwide Web, you know it when you see it. ? And as much as the computer has put information -- including great books -- at our fingertips, it has yet to give us a longer day.? There still isn't time for anything else.
So, not only would I keep a tight lid on the Web in our schools, I would consider supporting a Ban Bad Books Day.
--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Category: Curriculum & Instruction
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About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
May 16, 2013
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