The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict what Students Learn
Knopf, 2003 - 255 頁
Before Anton Chekhov and Mark Twain can be used in school readers and exams, they must be vetted by a bias and sensitivity committee. An anthology used in Tennessee schools changed “By God!” to “By gum!” and “My God!” to “You don’t mean it.” The New York State Education Department omitted mentioning Jews in an Isaac Bashevis Singer story about prewar Poland, or blacks in Annie Dillard’s memoir of growing up in a racially mixed town. California rejected a reading book because The Little Engine That Could was male.
Diane Ravitch maintains that America’s students are compelled to read insipid texts that have been censored and bowdlerized, issued by publishers who willingly cut controversial material from their books—a case of the bland leading the bland.
The Language Police is the first full-scale exposé of this cultural and educational scandal, written by a leading historian. It documents the existence of an elaborate and well-established protocol of beneficent censorship, quietly endorsed and implemented by test makers and textbook publishers, states, and the federal government. School boards and bias and sensitivity committees review, abridge, and modify texts to delete potentially offensive words, topics, and imagery. Publishers practice self-censorship to sell books in big states.
To what exactly do the censors object? A typical publisher’s guideline advises that
• Women cannot be depicted as caregivers or doing
• Men cannot be lawyers or doctors or plumbers.
They must be nurturing helpmates.
• Old people cannot be feeble or dependent; they
must jog or repair the roof.
• A story that is set in the mountains discriminates
against students from flatlands.
• Children cannot be shown as disobedient or in
conflict with adults.
• Cake cannot appear in a story because it is not
The result of these revisions are—no surprise!—boring, inane texts about a cotton-candy world bearing no resemblance to what children can access with the click of a remote control or a computer mouse. Sadly, data show that these efforts to sanitize language do not advance learning or bolster test scores, the very
reason given for banning allegedly insensitive words and topics.
Ravitch offers a powerful political and economic analysis of the causes of censorship. She has practical and sensible solutions for ending it, which will improve the quality of books for students as well as liberating publishers, state boards of education, and schools from the grip of pressure groups.
Passionate and polemical, The Language Police is a book for every educator, concerned parent, and engaged citizen.
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I thank Francie Alexander for her files on censorship issues in California ; Glen W. Thomas for background on California's social content guidelines ; Commissioner David Driscoll of Massachusetts for examples of that state's bias and ...
Students became used to seeing sidebars about social issues in their textbooks , even when they were irrelevant to the lessons . But teachers and students never knew about the words and phrases that were revised or deleted before ...
Unfortunately , the very format of the history textbook compels distortions ; it presumes that a single book can render objective and decisive judgment on hundreds or thousands of controversial issues . In fact , the only sure truths in ...
讀者評論 - 撰寫評論
THE LANGUAGE POLICE: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn用戶評語 - Kirkus
Johnny and Janie can't read, can't find the Pacific on a map, can't even think—all thanks to official censorship that "represents a systemic breakdown of our ability to educate the next generation ... 閱讀評論全文
LibraryThing Review用戶評語 - kellymaliawilliams - LibraryThing
Timely report on the effect pressure groups have on the literature taught in The public school system 閱讀評論全文