Spartacus was really hungry at 5 AM this morning. Why was he really hungry?
Because he last ate at 10:00 PM – SEVEN HOURS EARLIER!!
While he did wake up screaming at 1 AM with a very poopy diaper, he was not interested in eating and I was shocked when he went back to sleep within a minute of me returning him to his crib. This is the longest he has ever gone without eating, and gives me great hope that soon Hubster and I will get more sleep. Which is good news as I go back to school in two weeks…
I got an email from my sub yesterday about one of my American Lit students who came in with a parent note. The mother requested that her daughter be excused from reading The Crucible and be given an alternative assignment because she “doesn’t allow her kids to read or watch material that has Satanic of witchcraft contents.”
Now I don’t know who this girl is, as I’ve been on leave, but I can’t imagine any self-respecting 16-year-old would be happy to deliver this message from her mother. She is 20 months from graduating and being on her own and her mother is still censoring what she can read? I’m glad she’s not in my AP class, or we’d have waaaay more problems with the reading list.
I wonder if this mother has ever read any of the things that she is banning her children from. I could maybe understand if I was having a third grader read Harry Potter and the child was from an extremely conservative family. I recall reading an assigned book in 7th grade that contained a scene with sexual assault; I could understand a parent protesting then. I wish I could call or write this parent and explain my case, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t make any progress and would just result in her contacting my principle. But if I could, here is my list of reasons her daughter should not be excused from reading The Crucible:
– It is in the textbook. Which means that the state of TEXAS – known for being one of the most conservative states in the world of educational standards – thinks it is acceptable to be read by juniors. It’s not something the crazy teacher dug up to try to indoctrinate her students.
– It is American history; the Salem Witch Trials actually occurred and the people in the play actually lived, accused, and executed as playwright Arthur Miller depicts. There is some deviation (Abigail Williams, played by Winona Ryder in the movie version, was actually just a little girl during the real events, not a seventeen-year-old seductress accusing John Proctor because he ended their affair) but for the most part, The Crucible is not based on a true story; it is the true story. Miller was meticulous in his research; in fact, this summer I visited the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin and looked at one of Miller’s manuscripts of The Crucible and the pages and pages of maps and research he did for the play.
– There was no REAL witchcraft in Salem; the most popular theory is from ergot fungus, which can grow on the grain that the people of Salem raised and can lead to hallucinations, feelings of being pricked, and appearing to be stoned. Plenty of theories have been proposed, from physician’s negligence to Puritan culture to politics to children’s play, but few credible historians propose anything supernatural actually occurred.
– Miller was part of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare accusations and the House Un-american Activities Committee hearings of the 1950s. Many English classes approach The Crucible as an allegory to the struggles of writers, actors, and political dissenters during this time who were blacklisted without evidence as a result of the irrational fear of Communist takeover.
– The whole point of the play is to show the danger of ignorance and fear – which is generally borne from people who are not properly educated. The irony is that by preventing her daughter from reading such literature, she is actually contributing to the attitude which caused it in the first place.
– We have been reading The Crucible for over a week; the worst of the “witchcraft” in the play has already occurred and her daughter read it. This is a three-week chunk of our school year; does she really want her daughter removed from class for three weeks? It is so much extra work on the teacher to have to come up with an alternative assignment that matches the goals of this one and grade it when I’m on maternity leave, have two other classes I need to prepare for, and 120+ other students to work with. If a parent truly cares this much about an issue, he or she should contact the teacher the first week of school requesting a reading list so the teacher has a heads-up for where conflict might lie – not respond retroactively a week into the unit. I’ve had it on my lesson plans page online; it wasn’t a surprise!
Rant over. Time to feed my baby.