Just a short post that got me thinking about this. In our Inquiry Education class, we read Wintergirls, a novel about a young girl, Lia, who has anorexia. It takes place in the days, weeks and months after her “best friend,” Cassie, who had bulimia, died. It’s an intense book with a lot of touchy and sometimes controversial events. In a nutshell, it’s the book you want kids to open up and read but you don’t want to teach it because of the subject matter.
After discussing it in class, we concluded with a question: would you teach it? It was a heated debate, albeit everybody was calm and nothing got out of control. But some people were adamantly against teaching it, considering it risky and a possible threat to trigger thoughts and actions. Others would teach it, but under the condition that guidance counselors were available and maybe helped with how to talk about the matter. Many of the people who believed in teaching it did so because they didn’t want to be an English teacher that held books back from students. Should English teachers say “no” to students about what they can and can’t read?
Regardless, everyone agreed that this would be a difficult book to teach – if you were going to do so. And that brought up another point: should we not teach a book because it’s difficult?
Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers. I don’t even know where I stand exactly on the issue, but I lean more toward teaching it with the help of guidance counselors. I just don’t want to hold something back from my students. If I’m an English teacher and asking my students to open up, be creative and challenge ideas, can’t they ask the same of me?