Art Hall  ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ Removed from School Curriculum Over Student Concerns About Racism arthall

Art Hall

A suburban Philadelphia school is removing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its 11th grade curriculum, saying the language and portrayal of blacks makes students uncomfortable. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Friends’ Central School decided the “community costs” of reading Mark Twain’s 1885 classic outweigh the literary benefits. Art Hall, principal of the school in Wynnewood, says the book’s use of racial slurs was “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive.” [1] After a forum for students and faculty, the administration of Friends’ Central School decided to strike the book from the 11th-grade American literature class, Hall said in a letter to parents this week. “We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits,” Hall said in his letter. [2] According to the school’s website, Friends’ Central is guided by Quaker philosophy, and “peaceful resolution of conflicts, seeking truth, and collaboration are key aspects of a Friends’ Central education.” [2] The book will remain in the school’s library. The book about manners, race and rebellion in pre-Civil War has inspired controversy since its release 130 years ago. A Twain biographer has called book’s slur the “ultimate teachable moment in American literature.” [1][4] School officials told the Inquirer they didn’t believe they were censoring and instead were teaching an important lesson about the use of language. [6]

‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ Removed from School Curriculum Over Student Concerns About Racism huckleberry finnjpgIronically enough, after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1885, the book was boycotted in some places in the United States for portraying friendship between a black man and a white boy. “In its time, it was derided and censored,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which tracks challenges to books. Today, Mark Twain’s classic – about a boy who flees his abusive father and travels down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave – is still sometimes challenged in American schools, but for nearly the opposite reason: its liberal use of the N-word and perceived racist portrayals of black characters. [2] Liberals hate this book mainly because of it’s use of the N-word, which is in the text 219 times. [6] Nevertheless, Deborah Caldwell-Stone told the Inquirer that Friends’ Central’s ban is still seen as a kind of censorship because ‘there is something to be learned from this work.’ [4]

The novel was the No. 5 most frequently challenged book in the country during the 1990s, according to the American Library Association (ALA), and No. 14 in the decade of the 2000s. “It will always be an issue because it touches on a very sensitive nerve, which is America’s history of racism,” said Antonio Aiello, a Banned Books Week coordinator at PEN American Center, a New York-based literary association. [2] The Wynnewood school isn’t alone. Finn has sparked controversy at American high schools in recent years, and in 2011 a publisher made waves when it released a modified edition that removed all instances of the N-word. [2] The modification drew criticism as playing into political correctness and modifying a historic text. The very idea of changing the original language of Huckleberry Finn, to some, equates to revisionist history. [8]

Friends’ Central School  ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ Removed from School Curriculum Over Student Concerns About Racism quakerschool

Friends’ Central School

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[2] Justine McDaniel, Schools continue to grapple with ‘Huckleberry Finn’, Philly.com, December 11, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
[8] Paula Mejia, The Continued Misadventures of ‘Huckleberry Finn’, Newsweek, 12/12/15 at 1:48 PM

 

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Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the french canadian province of Quebec.

Bill Wallace

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