On Wednesday, I questioned whether or not my son’s teacher had the right to give low marks to a short story based on the fact that she found the premise disturbing.
Doc’s question to me was, “Mom, aren’t teachers supposed to read real books?”
Here’s the thing. They should. They really should. But that doesn’t mean they do.
If my son’s teacher is smart, she would have read, I don’t know, maybe, The Hunger Games. Or, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Scarlett Letter, Lord of the Flies, Shakespeare, or any number of the current popular Vampire/werewolf/paranormal/fantasy/dystopian books. But maybe she’s not a fan of the fantastical. Maybe she prefers YA issue books. Still.
Here’s the thing: ALL those books are disturbing in one way or another. Heck, being a teenager is disturbing. They read about post apocalyptic societies in which children are forced to fight to the death. About deadly creatures who roam earth, right under the noses of the clueless public. They read about addiction, abuse, neglect, cruelty, and all manner of emotional trauma. They read about *gasp* the kind of true love that makes you do stupid things—like ask to become a vampire. Or a faery.
Show me a YA book that isn’t disturbing in one way or another, and I’ll show you a YA book only being read by adults. And not by many.
Is it really a shocker to discover that these teen readers write similar stories?
But then, I say that assuming the teacher in question has read any of these books. Because, as mentioned above, just because she should doesn’t mean she has. Or does. Or will. However, if she hasn’t, how is she able to fairly grade papers written by the kids who are her students?The ones who read disturbing books?
As mentioned earlier, I respect that teacher’s ability to grade papers based on opinion. Even when the technical aspects have been efficiently handled. But I am also troubled by her choice to discourage any kid from expressing their creativity in the best way they know by downgrading their paper for being disturbing.
I believe kids have a hundred times more power than adults behind their creative instincts, because they have not yet learned to care what others think of their work. They write, dance, create, play, and dream just because they can. It is only as they become adults and have numerous people working to convince them that they aren’t good enough, that they actually start to believe it’s true.
Again, I ask you. Does an adult—especially a teacher—have the right to begin the cycle of “I’m not good enough” for a child? Even if that child is on the verge of adulthood?
Something to think about I guess.