I love controversy because it shakes things up; diversity, thinking, disagreeing, arguing, even ranting is part of the growth process as long as we focus on ideas and not the person. Educators believe they must be the experts. Where should we be growing and stretching? I’d lilke to suggest PC-ness. Take the controversies stirred by Debbie Reese on LM_NET and on her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature. There is also a SLJ interview from April.
Everyone owes themselves the chance to grow, to disagree, to argue, to ponder, and to discuss how American Indians/Native Americans are depicted in children’s literature. I am monitoring the discussion on Jan Brett’s newest title that incorporates Inuit culture clothing with the story of Goldilocks and the three Bears. I’m not going to come out here with an opinion. I want others to do some deep thinking and discussion. In fact, I’m sending Jan Brett this blog post to see if she’d like to respond.
I asked three teenagers recently what fiction titles depicting Native Americans had been shared with them during their entire K-12 life. They couldn’t name one. They couldn’t recall any discussion about the perceptions of Native Americans in literature. They all brightened up to tell me they had had one unit on Native Americans to discuss their loss of lands. They were actually surprised that I mentioned the topic because the unit was so separate from currency and history. It had no relevancy to them. ARGH!!!
The discussion last year on the Higher Power of Lucky was helpful to our profession as it forced people to think, to form an opinion, and to study their position in society and in our profession. Discussions help. We have so much room to grow. Growth may be uncomfortable but it is necessary to life.
I have been bad. I have used some of the titles that were negatively reviewed on the blog. Will this force me to change? Yes. Will I immediately stop using all of the titles or will I start teaching perspective and cultural sensitivity? Stay tuned and join the growth process.