Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fast Food Chain Taking Over the World = Disturbing

Remember my son Doc? (Why, yes, I am a dork who has named my kids after cartoon dwarfs.) He’s my brainstormer, the one I go to when I have plot issues, or when I hit a block and need a good shot of creativity. He’s an avid reader, so his thoughts are linear, and however fantastical, tend to make sense in context with character and plot.

Doc wrote a short story the other day for an assignment. It was a group assignment, written by 4 boys, so naturally, it involved a fast food chain taking over the world by selling brainwashing food. Not at all shocking to this mother.

He’s always been an excellent writer and English student. It’s a natural strength. He is, after all, my son.

*beams with pride*

But. This particular story was given bad marks. Doc came home, disgusted with his teacher—not for the marks themselves, but for the reasoning behind them, which made no sense to him. He ticked off on his fingers each requirement, which was in his paper. Still, the page bled with green slashes, and in large letters down the side, the teacher had written “DISTURBING.”

His question to me was, “Mom, aren’t teachers supposed to read books? Like, real ones?”

Why yes, son, yes they are. Especially English and literacy teachers. In fact, teachers should—theoretically—read at least some of the books their students are reading. In my opinion. Call me crazy.

Having the word “DISTURBING” written in large green letters down the side of the page discouraged those four boys, though, being that they're not exactly writing for pleasure, they probably don't realize why.

So here’s my question to you. Does any influential adult (teacher, parent, grandparent, guardian, second cousin once removed) have the right to censor the work of a child if that work has followed the given guidelines in every aspect other than meeting the tastes of the adult in question?

And if they do, does doing so feel reminiscent, eerily similar even, to banning books?

**More about this subject Friday, wherein I will discuss the things these boys are most likely reading.


Carolyn V. said...

Unfortunately there are the bad teachers out there that don't take creativity into account. Even if the creativity follows the guidelines. It's just shocks me.

L.T. Elliot said...

That teacher's reaction is disturbing to me. Her job isn't censorship. Her job is to give them the tools to succeed. What bothers me most is that her reaction is how it may discourage the ability and drive of boys that were genuinely enthusiastic.

WindyA said...

I agree with both comments above. When an assignment is to write, and given guidelines are followed, that is what the writing should be graded on. Not the actual story or opinion given. Clearly they did what they REACHED the teacher and said teacher got too caught up in the story to realize the grade given was as a result of WHAT was written vs HOW it was written and this sounds like it was a HOW assignment. :( Sad for Doc!