Author Topic: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?  (Read 15418 times)

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Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #280 on: October 13, 2017, 03:57:59 PM »

"We can teach the same lesson with different books". Really? Which 'lesson', Mr Holloway? This is literature, we don't use it for didactic purposes. Only dictatorships use literature to 'teach lessons',

I'm not sure I follow... litterature classes use books to teach.  THey have lesson plans.  That's how I understood the statement.

I'm not a reader of didactic fiction, and never was as a child, so I'll have to believe you on what you've written there. To me it's childish to seek lessons in a work of proper literature, and only 3rd-rate writing ever tries to 'teach' people something. But to a broader point (and I'll use what's commonly accepted as one of the greatest masterworks of the English language), for what do you think children and university students read Hamlet? What 'lesson' does that play have to give that other works on similar themes don't? Did Shakespeare go to so much trouble to write that play only to have it end up 'teaching lessons' to imbecilic children and their 'teachers'? Is that what education is to be now? Studying purveyors of illustrated ideas in order to find out 'what the author meant'? To receive 'the message'? Don't answer from the point of view of what teachers do, XeRocks, they have their own interests, I am asking your opinion of literature and proper writers, don't give silly importance to teachers' "lesson plans", think about the purpose of literature.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 03:50:59 PM by Dave_Manchester »
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.

Online El Barto

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #281 on: October 13, 2017, 04:41:34 PM »

"We can teach the same lesson with different books". Really? Which 'lesson', Mr Holloway? This is literature, we don't use it for didactic purposes. Only dictatorships use literature to 'teach lessons',

I'm not sure I follow... litterature classes use books to teach.  THey have lesson plans.  That's how I understood the statement.

I'm not a reader of didactic fiction, and never was as a child, so I'll have to believe you on what you've written there. To me it's childish to seek lessons in a work of proper literature, and only the 3rd-rate writing of tense mediocrities ever tries to 'teach' people something. But to a broader point (and I'll use what's commonly accepted as one of the greatest masterworks of the English language), for what do you think children and university students read Hamlet? What 'lesson' does that play have to give that other works on similar themes don't? Did Shakespeare go to so much trouble to write that incomparably written play only to have it end up 'teaching lessons' to imbecilic children and their 'teachers'? Is that what education is to be now? Studying purveyors of fatuous illustrated ideas in order to find out 'what the author meant'? To receive 'the message'? Don't answer from the point of view of what teachers do, XeRocks, they have their own interests, I am asking your opinion of literature and proper writers, don't give silly importance to teachers' "lesson plans", think about the purpose of literature.
That Norwegians should never be counted upon to do the sensible thing.
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
E.F. Benson

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #282 on: October 13, 2017, 04:48:08 PM »

"We can teach the same lesson with different books". Really? Which 'lesson', Mr Holloway? This is literature, we don't use it for didactic purposes. Only dictatorships use literature to 'teach lessons',

I'm not sure I follow... litterature classes use books to teach.  THey have lesson plans.  That's how I understood the statement.

I'm not a reader of didactic fiction, and never was as a child, so I'll have to believe you on what you've written there. To me it's childish to seek lessons in a work of proper literature, and only the 3rd-rate writing of tense mediocrities ever tries to 'teach' people something. But to a broader point (and I'll use what's commonly accepted as one of the greatest masterworks of the English language), for what do you think children and university students read Hamlet? What 'lesson' does that play have to give that other works on similar themes don't? Did Shakespeare go to so much trouble to write that incomparably written play only to have it end up 'teaching lessons' to imbecilic children and their 'teachers'? Is that what education is to be now? Studying purveyors of fatuous illustrated ideas in order to find out 'what the author meant'? To receive 'the message'? Don't answer from the point of view of what teachers do, XeRocks, they have their own interests, I am asking your opinion of literature and proper writers, don't give silly importance to teachers' "lesson plans", think about the purpose of literature.
That Norwegians should never be counted upon to do the sensible thing.

On the contrary, Fortinbras ended up ruling the entire shebang!
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.

Online El Barto

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #283 on: October 13, 2017, 05:01:52 PM »
Since the joke seems to have fallen flat I'll abandon it. But my recollection is that Fortinbras wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. Old Norway wanted him mucking about in Poland and not stirring up the Danes.

Eh, I should have gone with diving into someone's grave never looks as cool as you think it will.
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
E.F. Benson

Offline XeRocks81

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #284 on: October 14, 2017, 07:23:13 AM »

"We can teach the same lesson with different books". Really? Which 'lesson', Mr Holloway? This is literature, we don't use it for didactic purposes. Only dictatorships use literature to 'teach lessons',

I'm not sure I follow... litterature classes use books to teach.  THey have lesson plans.  That's how I understood the statement.



I'm not a reader of didactic fiction, and never was as a child, so I'll have to believe you on what you've written there. To me it's childish to seek lessons in a work of proper literature, and only the 3rd-rate writing of tense mediocrities ever tries to 'teach' people something. But to a broader point (and I'll use what's commonly accepted as one of the greatest masterworks of the English language), for what do you think children and university students read Hamlet? What 'lesson' does that play have to give that other works on similar themes don't? Did Shakespeare go to so much trouble to write that incomparably written play only to have it end up 'teaching lessons' to imbecilic children and their 'teachers'? Is that what education is to be now? Studying purveyors of fatuous illustrated ideas in order to find out 'what the author meant'? To receive 'the message'? Don't answer from the point of view of what teachers do, XeRocks, they have their own interests, I am asking your opinion of literature and proper writers, don't give silly importance to teachers' "lesson plans", think about the purpose of literature.

Whoa now.  I'll just reitirate that I think we all agree pulling that book from the curriculum was a dumb idea and leave it at that. 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 08:51:30 AM by XeRocks81 »

Online portnoy311

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #285 on: October 14, 2017, 07:42:40 PM »
The outrage over this should be equaled by the outrage each and every time a school district puts an unscientific insert about evolution in their science books.

Offline jammindude

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #286 on: October 14, 2017, 08:05:23 PM »
Dave,

While I get that there are some pieces of art that exist purely for entertainment value... (and even though Shakespeare mostly just for that purpose in his time, he has since been elevated above that because so much of his prose became part of our every day vernacular....thus, why it should be at least acknowledged as being an important part of our history of literature)...you cannot deny that much entertainment is trying to send a message.  In fact, I would say more than half.   I mean, every childhood fairy tale we were ever told had a "moral of the story" (the entire reason we have that idiom is BECAUSE so many stories are trying to give us "a message")

I think you'd be very hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't agree that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those stories that conveys not just one, but several messages.   Atticus Finch is probably one of the most revered characters in modern literature just because of his morals, and self restraint in the face of evil, and passion for justice balanced with belief in due process.   It also teaches us about evils of going along with the crowd in a mob mentality, how difficult it can be to stand up to that mob....and also the ability to understand the human beings that have problems most people could never understand.   There's WAY too much there to just pass off as just pure "popcorn entertainment"
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Offline sylvan

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #287 on: October 15, 2017, 06:54:32 AM »
Unfortunately I can't find the exact article that referenced it, but according to Harper Lee, she didn't understand the controversy, as "it's just a love story."

Whether or not that's accurate, let's roll with it for a second. Let's say that her aim was to tell a love story. The idea that people can take different messages or interpretations, regardless of the intent of the writer, is kinda the main argument against what was said earlier about ""We can teach the same lesson with different books." I don't see the teaching/learning of literature as an instructor telling me the meaning of a text. The text is there for me to read and make my own interpretation. The point is for the group to read so that the interpretations can be discussed. It's not about right or wrong, but about discussion and understanding. The idea that an educator can decide that there's a specific lesson to be taught/learned from literary pieces is, to me at least, completely counter to the true intention of higher learning and understanding.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #288 on: October 15, 2017, 08:35:12 AM »
Jammin,

I'm not saying literature is just "popcorn entertainment", I'm saying that it isn't a means to teach facile civics lessons to simpletons. Has there ever been an intelligent person who began to read To Kill A Mockingbird who wasn't already aware of the "messages" it had to teach? Has anyone ever finished that novel and thought "Well I was planning on blindly following a mob tomorrow but I may have to rethink a few things now"? If proper literature has a 'message' it's only an incidental by-product of having done its job well, which is to show life and the human condition as accurately as possible. We read To Kill a Mockingbird for its characterisation and its prose and its depiction of a time; not to receive inane 'lessons' about racism and justice or whatever. If that were the reason to read it then Harper Lee could simply have written a page full of bullet points.

A teacher of literature has one task: to present the novel (or the play, or the poem). It is not his or her job to first formulate a message they want to convey to children and then select literature they feel 'teaches' that message. To return to the claim of the Vice President of the School Board ("We can teach the same lesson with different books"), with which other books can you teach the character arcs of Atticus, Scout, Jem, etc? Or was that never the point of the 'lesson'? Is literature class no longer about actual literature, but is instead reduced to "Good morning children, racism is baaaaaad!!! Come on kids, repeat it in unison now: Racism...Is...Baaaaaaadd!!!! And also: like Atticus Finch, we must not follow mob mentality...except when removing potentially offensive books about Atticus Finch"

So much has been infantilized already, we don't need to start doing it with classic literature. You mentioned fairy tales, Jammin, but fairy tales are for infants. Literature is for intelligent people (adults and children). If we really need to start parenting children in the classroom, then fine, quickly give them a sheet of commandments before the lesson begins (Don't be racist, don't be a dick, think independently, etc). But otherwise, leave that silly shit out of the school programme. Just present the novel. Present its characters, look at its language, put it in context, by all means consider its themes, but let it speak for itself to every individual reader. Don't decide beforehand and on behalf of the children what its 'message' is.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 10:07:47 AM by Dave_Manchester »
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #289 on: October 15, 2017, 09:51:02 AM »
One last clarification comment - the only thing that triggered me about that story was the comment of the VP (about having "other books" to teach the desired lesson). If people want to garner 'messages' from the literature they read, that's absolutely fine, it's none of my business, but that guy is the Vice President of the school board. It's frightening someone like him is in that position. His words suggest to me that his concept of literature is as some kind of tool for haranguing young people with a pre-determined message, and I think that devalues it.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 10:08:41 AM by Dave_Manchester »
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.

Offline XeRocks81

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #290 on: October 15, 2017, 10:48:54 AM »
One last clarification comment - the only thing that triggered me about that story was the comment of the VP (about having "other books" to teach the desired lesson). If people want to garner 'messages' from the literature they read, that's absolutely fine, it's none of my business, but that guy is the Vice President of the school board. It's frightening someone like him is in that position. His words suggest to me that his concept of literature is as some kind of tool for haranguing young people with a pre-determined message, and I think that devalues it.

Fair enough.  That's NOT what I was reacting to at all so that's probably why I didn't get where you were going at first.    My issue was that it seems like the book was pulled because it made some people uncomfortable (who? Students, teachers, parents, it's unclear) . Wich is crazy to me because confronting racism is supposed to make you uncomfortable.  I understand that's far from the only theme in the book though (like El Barto mentioned)  and there's plenty to discuss in it (again reinforcing the shortsightedness of pulling it from class).   The article mentions "To Kill a Mockingbird" would still be in the school library available for kids to read and discover on their own time wich seems more like what you were talking about Dave.   

Offline Stadler

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #291 on: October 16, 2017, 09:59:35 AM »
They should teach you how to better interpret a book. How to understand what the author was trying to say. How to gain your own understanding. They shouldn't be using them to try and teach a moral message from the book. That's something the reader should learn to do on his own. To use the current example, "the teens were slated to learn that compassion and empathy are not dependent upon race or education." While that is one message, I had a different takeaway from it. I view Atticus as a man who understood that shit jobs need to be done. If he was the only person capable or willing to do them, then he did them. A more pragmatic interpretation, but one that was very meaningful to me. Atticus Finch gets hero status in my world. That's why you teach somebody to interpret something, rather than teach them your idea of the meaning. Often times there are more than one.

Something like this, for me too (though slightly different message; though I still consider Atticus a hero).  My kid read this in school (and the recently published 'alternate version', which was the focus of the lesson).  Because it had been ages since I read it, I re-read it and we had some amazing discussions about it, and oddly enough (not) the word and the concept that is so "terrifying"TM to that school board never came up, not even once.   We spent far more time on the odd kid.   

Offline Stadler

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #292 on: October 16, 2017, 10:01:21 AM »
Since the joke seems to have fallen flat I'll abandon it. But my recollection is that Fortinbras wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. Old Norway wanted him mucking about in Poland and not stirring up the Danes.

Eh, I should have gone with diving into someone's grave never looks as cool as you think it will.

As someone who has actually seen that (my best friend lost his brother to a DWI accident, and his mom jumped in the open grave in her grief) I can vouch for that.   That was a shit show. 

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why The Urge to Silence Opposing Views?
« Reply #293 on: November 20, 2017, 01:46:18 PM »
As much as I despise The Daily Mail, this is shameful and embarrassing. A British stationary company has been bullied into severing its advertising ties with the paper because it "promotes divisive views":

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42057493

Note the company's properly penitent reply:

We’ve listened to you about this weekend’s newspaper promotion. We now know we were wrong to do this - we’re truly sorry and we won’t ever do it again. Thanks for telling us what you really think and we apologise if we have let you down on this one. Lesson learnt.

Sounds sincere, doesn't it? But never mind sincerity, rationality, calm heads, civil debate, opposing views and freedom of expression and trade. What matters is that the purveyor of "divisive views" is being taken down one advertiser at a time. The utopian goal of The Land Of No Opposing Voices Anywhere moves one step closer.

Shameful and pathetic.
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.