Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick! Cover up those sculpted genitals!

You heard me right, sculptures are the culprits in this round of "Ban That Textbook!"  Actually, I just came up with that category right now, and it probably won't last long because I'm forgetful, but it sounds catchy, so I'm keeping it this time.  Anyway, back to genitals...

According to Kim Williams at the Plano Star:

The content in a Humanities textbook has brought complaints from some parents, followed by the book’s removal from the shelves of the schools by the Plano ISD.
The district removed the textbooks after two people complained about photos of nude sculptures and other works of art from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as the Italian Renaissance.
How much further is censorship of images going to go if not even 1,000 year old sculptures aren't safe from simple minds.  Did I say simple?  I meant to say simple.  Whoops, there I go again.  Sorry, perhaps too many incidents in one week has just gotten me upset, frustrated, befuddled, or all of the above.  But back to the article.  Kim Williams continues,
“Initially, the material was to be replaced with alternative resources,” Range-Stanton [director of communications for the school district] said. “After further review of local board policy EFA, our secondary curriculum staff has determined that the book, ‘Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities,’ should be considered a supplemental instructional resource for the course, since it is locally chosen and purchased and is not provided within the state textbook adoption process.”
Thank goodness the book is back!  But that's not the story here.  The story is that the book was removed in the first place due to only two complaints out of hundreds and thousands of students.  And not only that, but the official process of review was not even followed in the first place.  The initial removal of the book sparked intense public outcry, especially from former students:
Ashley Meyers, a former Plano student, used the book seven years ago; in response to the district’s decision to remove the book, she started a Facebook campaign which received support from 576 Facebook members. The Facebook campaign inspired letters and e-mails to be sent to the district out of concern. 
Maran Nelson, another former student who used the text in her humanities class, said she joined Meyers’ group on Facebook and even sent out e-mails to more than 600 people in hopes of their support.

Nelson, as it turns out, shares my perspective:  
Nelson was glad to hear that it was all a 'big mistake' but said she believes that a single parental grievance does not constitute a mob of opposition, which she feels is what happened when the district pulled the book. 
"This unwarranted textbook replacement would have had a deleterious impact on the Humanities course curriculum and the reputations of PISD schools,” Nelson said. “The district has already done a great disservice to its local and national public image by allowing the non-issue to progress as far as it did.”
So, why am I ranting about this when it's all been taken care of?  As I said before, I'm upset that it was an issue at all.  I stated in a previous post that I'm surprised how often School Districts are simply allowing one or two parents to throw a wrench in the entire system.  The School Districts are not standing up for their schools and their teachers and the decisions made to bring students a good, well-rounded educational experience.  They don't want a "problem" but they end up with more and bigger problems when they don't make any effort to defend the texts or the teachers, instead throwing them in front of the proverbial train first.  Katherine Terrell, yet another former student, said that, 
she appreciates the desire of parents to protect their children from content they consider inappropriate, but she wanted to encourage both parents and PISD to consider the consequences of that action.

“As the college application process becomes increasingly competitive, parents should encourage the highest possible quality of education for their children. Part of that education is an appreciation for world culture and arts, and artists from the ancient Greeks to Michelangelo to Picasso have chosen to represent the nude form,” Terrell said. “To erase these works from a course in art history is to misrepresent history itself.”

 Let's not mis-represent history if we can help it.  We all know there is enough bias already in textbooks and it's difficult to find quality texts that actually inform and give solid representations to students.  So how about we try not to get rid of those that are doing a good job simply because we don't like the fact that a sculpture is naked.  If it's that big a deal, take away your child's textbook and place sticky notes over the "naughty bits" you don't want them to see.  Not too difficult, and a whole lot less messy than removing the book from everyone else's more educated hands.


  1. Of course, if you just put a sticky note over the naughty bits, the first thing any inquiring mind will want to do is look underneath...

    How many of you out there read National Geographic to see all those ladies in darkest Africa who didn't have to wear blouses like we did?

  2. So Good post and i will follow you Blog and i hope to follow my blog AncientGreece.Me and see more about Spartan Government thanks a gain admin ,,,