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Author Topic: Book Ban--Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
Skinny Dipper
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posted 05 March 2006 07:06 AM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Link:Toronto Star article

My comments:

The York Region District School Board is strongly discouraging grades 4-6 students from reading Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis. The Toronto District School Board is recommending caution. Other school boards are reviewing this book.

The York Region District School Board has a mixture Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and mostly Christian students. Individual schools may have a mixed population or may be homogeneous. Southern York Region is very diverse; the central and northern parts are mainly white and Christian.

Three Wishes is about Palestinian and Israeli children and their accounts of their daily lives. Sometimes, they talk about going to McDonald's; other times they talk about suicide bombers.

Here are some quotes from the book:

From Elisheva, Age 18 (p. 78):

quote:
We, the Israelis, have been trying but how much can we give? After all, this is our land. I wish all the Jews in the world could come to Israel, and that all the Palestinians would leave and go live in some other Arab country.

From Wafa, 12-year-old girl (p. 94):

quote:
I hate going through the checkpoints. The Israeli soldiers treat us like we are dogs. The make us stand and wait for no good reason, just because they can. They don't talk to us. They just ignore us, like we don't exist, like we're not even people.

Then they say, "Come!" They order us around like we are dogs. "Come!" "Stay!"


These two quotes were just examples I found from the book.

I would recommend that any student who is able to read at a grade-four level get a copy of Three Wishes, then discuss this book with his/her teacher and fellow students. Fair or not, it's one of the better and thought provoking books that I have read.

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: Skinny Dipper ]


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Michelle
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posted 05 March 2006 08:57 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That is very interesting.

And yes, heaven forbid we let our children read the points of view of children from other parts of the world, about their regional conflicts. Gosh, they might learn something other than their own comfortable lives here in Canada! And we can't be having that.


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Skinny Dipper
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posted 05 March 2006 09:41 AM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I just want to add that the previous quotes were sort of random selections from the book. If you want to see a sample of the book, go to www.amazon.ca or www.amazon.com and type Three Wishes under "search." If you get to the correct website, click on the book to see sample pages.

I've read the whole book.


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miles
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posted 05 March 2006 02:13 PM      Profile for miles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I find it interesting that no one is saying ban the book. At least from the press reports that i have heard and read. Rather the point that is picked up upon is the age of students who should read the book.

According to the back cover of the book the book is for students in grade 6 and older.

The Silver Birrch awards are for grades 4-6. Could it be that the author knows best the ages that the book is for?

I would think that if Ellis thought that the book was suitable for all ages then their would be no grade 6 plus on the book.

Is the book appropriate for kids in grades 4 and 5 as well? I am not sure. Obviously the author did not think so since she allowed a disclaimer for older children as the age appropriateness guide.


quote:
Originally posted by Skinny Dipper:
I would recommend that any student who is able to read at a grade-four level get a copy of Three Wishes, then discuss this book with his/her teacher and fellow students. Fair or not, it's one of the better and thought provoking books that I have read.

I agree with this but the Silver Birch is not a discussion based or curriculum based initiative. It is a list of recommended books for kids to read. Their is no connection to the books recommended and any discussion by teachers, students parents etc.

I would hope that a teacher would have a discussion about the book. But from whom would the teacher get information from to be able to talk to the kids? If the teacher is too pro-Israeli their will be complaints, if too pro-Palestinian there will be complaints.

Interesting to see how teachers deal with this
Intersting that this story has been in the press for almost a month and the first thread that I have seen on this story is today.

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: miles ]


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skeptikool
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posted 05 March 2006 02:25 PM      Profile for skeptikool        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I hear today on on CBC radio news of an attempt to have a Palestinian film, likely to win an award, withdrawn from consideration. The reason: Because it is hurtful to those that have lost loved ones to suicide bombers.

Doubtless true, but hurtful too, and testament to killing efficiency, would be the relative death tolls.


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skdadl
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posted 05 March 2006 02:26 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why do children's ages matter?

I have wondered about this for a long time, actually. I mean, I partly see the point of paying attention to reading levels, except I have sometimes worried that enforcing controlled reading levels is going to be holding back children who could leap ahead to fairly difficult materials at a young age. We know from historical evidence that many can.

I am not a parent, so what do I know. I was interested to read that interview with the nine-year-old: what grade would a nine-year-old be in?

And I grasp that kids nowadays are seeing much more than I did as an elementary-school student (I didn't see TV at all until I was twelve).

I didn't read Anne Frank, eg, until I was in grade seven - an experience permanently burned into my memory. For today's kids, though, that may be late.


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miles
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posted 05 March 2006 02:29 PM      Profile for miles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Why do children's ages matter?


Skdadl all of the press stories in print and on radio that I have seen, heard have not dealt with content as much as they have dealt with the age appropriateness of the child reading it.

I think that is why ages matter. Also the Silver Birch Awards is an age specific award program


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Jacob Two-Two
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posted 05 March 2006 03:02 PM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Kids should know about this stuff, for sure, but the age question is a tricky one. You would assume it would be different for each kid, so how do you make a standard?

Check this out. A short account of a nine-year old who read something very heavy and wasn't sure how to take it. Too young? I dunno.


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ohara
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posted 05 March 2006 03:10 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Also we as a society must make age appropriate decisions for children's curriculum. Algebra is not taught in grade 1 becuase the concepts are to difficult to grasp. That is what curriculum design is really all about. It would seem pretty logical to me that a child in grade 4 may find it hard to grasp the concept of a suicide bomber hence as Miles notes the author herself has suggested it not be read prior to grade 6. Seems pretty reaonable to me.
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skdadl
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posted 05 March 2006 03:18 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But what are kids in grade 4 seeing on TV?

I mean: that is part of the problem. Kids are exposed to the most vulgar and uncontrolled parts of our culture outside of school. Wouldn't an intelligent treatment of these things be welcome as early as possible?

The other part of the problem, of course, is the real lives of the real kids quoted in the book. How "age-appropriate" is war for them?


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Michelle
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posted 05 March 2006 03:24 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
It would seem pretty logical to me that a child in grade 4 may find it hard to grasp the concept of a suicide bomber hence as Miles notes the author herself has suggested it not be read prior to grade 6. Seems pretty reaonable to me.

Really? When do children start learning and reading about the Holocaust? I read stories and started learning about it in grade four and possibly even earlier. (That could also be a function of it being part of our family history, since my mother's side of the family lived in Germany during the Holocaust.) And I have a friend whose nine year-old (that would be grade four) has been learning about the Holocaust through Hebrew classes at his synagogue.

Would you suggest also that children not learn about the Holocaust until at least grade six? The events of the Holocaust were at least as traumatic as the events happening in Israel/Palestine today, are they not? (Much moreso, I should think.)

How about this book? Should that also be censored until grade six, despite the fact that it's a "middle readers" book? I read that book in grade three or four.

That said, I'm not so sure I would want to try to explain to my grade one son what a suicide bomber is. On the other hand, I'm not sure that he wouldn't be ready for it in three years. He's already been grappling with the whole idea of death and dying for the last couple of years (just in a natural way, not abnormally obsessed or anything) and is in that stage that most kids go through where they're morbidly fascinated with the whole concept while they're trying to figure it out. I'll probably have a better idea of what I think kids can handle in grade four once my son has reached that stage and I can see where he and his friends are at. On the other hand, it's so different for each child that who knows whether he'll even be representative of his age group.

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: Michelle ]


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ohara
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posted 05 March 2006 04:07 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Isnt that just the point Michelle. There are ways to teach about war and that is why school boards hire curriculum designers. If you disagree with your schoolboard decsion and you can advocate otherwise feel free. However someone has to make these decisions and hopefully the schoolboard is in the best position to do so.

As for teaching the Holocaust even Hannah's suitcase and Anne Frank do not speak of gas chambers and death squads. Are you saying that Elie Wiesel's "Night" is appropriate for a 9 year old? OR Primo Levi's "Survival at Auschwitz"? Much must be taken into consideration including the author's view. Why are you ignoring the author who feels that Grade 4 is just to young?

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]


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skdadl
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posted 05 March 2006 04:36 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, Anne Frank does write, some way into her journal, of the gossip going around about what is happening to people who are transported.

And then, of course, there is the way the book ends. I mean: doesn't something have to be said about why the book ended?

If I'm just going on my memories of myself as a child, I would say that Anne Frank is moderately advanced reading. I would have a hard time imagining kids in grade 4 reading her, especially now that the parts her father censored (about puberty, eg) have been restored.

But then, I am out of touch. I started grade 4 in 1954, before her book had even been published.

All the same: Edward Gibbon had read his father's entire library by the time he was twelve. I think that a number of the great Victorians had similar feats under their belts.

I wonder about us and kids.


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Michelle
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posted 05 March 2006 04:57 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
If I'm just going on my memories of myself as a child, I would say that Anne Frank is moderately advanced reading. I would have a hard time imagining kids in grade 4 reading her, especially now that the parts her father censored (about puberty, eg) have been restored.

I'm not so sure I agree. I can't remember exactly when I read Anne Frank. (It feels like I'd always read it, if you know what I mean.) I think I read it in grade 4 or 5.

I'm not so sure that this book we're discussing has graphic descriptions of suicide bombings either. They may just mention them, and then the kids will turn to mom and dad (or teacher) and ask what it means. Just as kids would do so with any other book that mentions but doesn't go into graphic detail about atrocities.

Back to Anne Frank. I don't think the puberty issues would be a factor for age appropriateness in grade four. Many girls are already reading the Judy Blume books that deal with periods, masturbation, falling in love, and puberty by that age.


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skdadl
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posted 05 March 2006 05:01 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, as I said: I am out of touch, and I can believe all that.

Maybe part of the problem is that a lot of the people fussing over this book are my age, and similarly out of touch?


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Michelle
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posted 05 March 2006 05:19 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know - I suppose that could account for some of it. I know that what was considered age appropriate when it came to violence and sex when my parents were in school is a lot different than when I was. I doubt my mother was reading mass-produced books about girls getting their periods, and kids discovering masturbation when she was in grade five - but I was. And yet, I often find myself thinking about whether my son is too sensitive for exposure to this or that yet (such as some of the really nasty gruesome punishments in old fairy tales, for instance), even though I read the most bloodthirsty Grimm's Fairy Tales at his age.

So, maybe out-of-touch-ness does has something to do with it. I don't think it starts at your age, though, skdadl, if my experience is any indication. (There's nothing quite like that feeling, in your late twenties, when certain events and conversations make you suddenly realize how out of touch you are. )


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ohara
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posted 05 March 2006 06:40 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I understand that Anne Frank is usually taught in the upper elementary grades but still isnt the point that someone has to make age appropriate decisions the issue here? The author says grade 6 and up, I will go with hat Skdadl. With respect and I know you are or have been involved in editing, Ellis who wrote the book is in a better position than we to judge. And it seems that most school boards are going with her assesment. So what's the problem?
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Skinny Dipper
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posted 05 March 2006 06:56 PM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Any of the books that I have seen about the Holocaust in elementary schools have been tame compared to what one can find at the book stores in the history section and at public libraries. There are no photos with close-ups of corpses, and no nude men, women, and children lining up to enter the gas-chambers.

I think that the ban (or non-ban) with Three Wishes has more to do with ethnic/religious politics than just the violent content of the book. Had the book been about the personal and vivid accounts of Canadian and German soldiers who fought in D-Day, I don't think we would be debating descriptive violence in books.

Last year, some of my intermediate students read Stitches. It is about an effeminite young male growing up and the difficulties he faces. The language in the book is not tame. The "F--" and "F-----" words comes up several times. Not all the students enjoyed reading the book. Yet, I was able to create a great classroom discussion about homophobia. As for the lower grades, I can't encourage discussion about "my two mommies" because that is actually against board policy. Hitler, yes; two mommies, no. There aren't very many double-mommy or double-daddy families living north of Steeles Avenue.


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Skinny Dipper
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posted 05 March 2006 07:14 PM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To Ohara,

Firstly, I have to respect board policies whether or not I agree with them.

Next, the Silver Birch books can be used in numerous ways. They can be used for independent reading, small group literature circle discussions and assignments, and whole class discussions.

For independent reading, students would be able to choose any Silver Birch book (if enough copies available), then start or stop reading at any point. If a student doesn't like Three Wishes, he or she can pick another book as soon as possible.

For small group/cooperative assignments, students may either rank book preferences or be given a book based on the students' reading abilities. Once the students receive their books, they usually don't get a chance to change. A teacher may give leeway if a student becomes uncomfortable with a particular book.

For whole-class reading, all students receive the same book and are expected to read that book. For whole-class readings, the reading level may be below grade so as to allow everyone to participate in reading, discussions, and written assignments. I most likely would not have grade-4 or 5 students read Three Wishes as this book is written at least at a grade five level. Grade-six students start learning about bias as part of their curriculum expectations. If I had a mature group of grade-six students, I could have them read Three Wishes. Then again, I have to respect board policies.

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: Skinny Dipper ]


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Saber
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posted 05 March 2006 08:45 PM      Profile for Saber     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
One passage in particular, in which a child talks about joining her sister, a suicide bomber, in heaven, has some adults wondering about the message it sends to kids.

What is the message? Families of suicide bombers are human?

[ 05 March 2006: Message edited by: Saber ]


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Saber
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posted 05 March 2006 09:50 PM      Profile for Saber     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is a kind of radical innocence to what Ellis has done. She has allowed children to just talk about their lives. She did this in The Breadwinner and in Parvana'a journey to an extent. She talked with children while she was in Afghanistan and then paraphrased their lives by focusing on certain common themes in the stories that she heard: girls having to dress as boys in order to earn money for their families, women being afraid to leave their houses, parents being dragged away by Taliban soldiers never to be seen again. But it wasn't a real problem for Canadians because she depicted the lives of cildren living under the rule of the Taliban. Clearly, she was taking a stance against the Taliban and therefore, it could be argued that she supported the invasion of Afghanistan. At no point does she say that the invasion of Afghanistan was bad. All she says is that Afghans are human. This in itself made her a leading edge author of children’s literature. At no point does she directly criticize American policy. The only bad guys in the Breadwinner are the Taliban and the Russians.

What she’s doing here is actually printing the views of people who we don’t listen to very often, people living under occupation; people living under the military occupation of a state with which we are closely allies and with which we relate culturally.

We want anti-racism in our schools but we don’t necessarily want to listen to the people who we don’t want to be racist against. The board policy seems to be, it’s okay to say that people living in occupied Middle Eastern countries are not all bad. It’s progressive to say that they are human but it is really radical to listen to anything they have to say and we should exercise caution in doing so.


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ohara
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posted 05 March 2006 11:40 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Or the Board is saying that Three Wishes is inappropriate for Grade 4 students in the same way Cathcher in the Rye is inappropriate for Grade 6 students.
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kuri
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posted 06 March 2006 12:24 AM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Why do children's ages matter?

I'm not so sure they do, or at least I'm not sure they do in a strictly educational way.

There's actually two dimensions in which we are discussing age appropriateness: reading ability and maturity of the themes.

As for reading ability, I think we underestimate most children. Keep in mind this isn't the opinion of trained educator, just the sister and daughter of trained educators, who discuss their profession a good deal. My mom used to give me and my sister standardized reading tests each year that rated our reading ability based on 'standard' grades 1 to 12 reading levels. Well, when we both surpassed the 'standard' grade 12 reading level at that age of 10, there wasn't much point in continuing onwards. As you say, children are very different and we could be holding perfectly able children back.

Furthermore, reading ability is highly dependent on reading practise and thus reading enjoyment. If we continually give kids inane books of the "See Spot Run" variety long after they've experienced far more complex and nuanced themes in movies and TV, well... it's no wonder so many view reading as boring.

The other dimension is their maturity. As we've seen in the discussions around age of consent, this one will always be a little touchier and contentious. My personal opinion is that childhood is being extended and extended and extended, in large part through the desires of adults to protect or shield young people from the realities of the world around them, including the realities of sex and violence. The result (again, in my personal opinion) is less responsible and less aware adults. If one actually listens to children, one may find they have a good deal of articulate thoughts about the world around them. Indeed, at a recent family gathering, I found the adults going around in tired, right-wing stereotypes that had me biting my tongue several times over while the 10 year boy, later on, had a really interesting analysis (and I use that word with total seriousness) on the way the social organization of Harry Potter matched that of his classmates.
(edited for a word repitition I didn't like)

[ 06 March 2006: Message edited by: kuri ]


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Michelle
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posted 06 March 2006 07:13 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
Or the Board is saying that Three Wishes is inappropriate for Grade 4 students in the same way Cathcher in the Rye is inappropriate for Grade 6 students.

So you will have absolutely no problem with it if they introduce it into the Grade 6 curriculum then, right? No complaints at all? And you think that those who are complaining now will have no complaints with it if they simply follow the author's recommendation and introduce it at grade six?

[ 06 March 2006: Message edited by: Michelle ]


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skdadl
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posted 06 March 2006 07:46 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Skinny Dipper, are you telling us that you actually teach for this board? Gee: we have an insider!

I agree with kuri's analysis. I certainly have my suspicions about pegging books to rigid notions of grade-level reading ability. A number of us here were probably reading at university level by the time we hit junior high. Certainly, back in the olden days , that happened because libraries were open and there were no restrictions on what a curious little kid could take out. I was into sleazy LA detective fiction at nine, eg.

As for content, I think Saber has fingered the sad truth:

quote:
We want anti-racism in our schools but we don’t necessarily want to listen to the people who we don’t want to be racist against. The board policy seems to be, it’s okay to say that people living in occupied Middle Eastern countries are not all bad. It’s progressive to say that they are human but it is really radical to listen to anything they have to say and we should exercise caution in doing so.

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ohara
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posted 06 March 2006 08:11 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:

So you will have absolutely no problem with it if they introduce it into the Grade 6 curriculum then, right? No complaints at all? And you think that those who are complaining now will have no complaints with it if they simply follow the author's recommendation and introduce it at grade six?

[ 06 March 2006: Message edited by: Michelle ]



Personally I would have no problems as long as it is taught in context as with all such curricula. As for the "others" I guess you will have to ask them.

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Michelle
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posted 06 March 2006 08:18 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How about an educated guess, just for the sake of discussion. Do you really think it's all about the age, or do you think there are some politics involved as well?
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Skinny Dipper
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posted 06 March 2006 04:45 PM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yup, I teach for the board. I won't say where or which grades. I will say that teachers have discussed this issue, but life goes on. Teachers just switch materials. Some students will just read The Day My Butt Went Psycho and Zombie Butts from Uranus by Andy Griffiths instead.

[ 06 March 2006: Message edited by: Skinny Dipper ]


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ohara
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posted 06 March 2006 06:08 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
How about an educated guess, just for the sake of discussion. Do you really think it's all about the age, or do you think there are some politics involved as well?
Well it would be naive to think that politics didnt play some role but if CJC says it would have no problem with the work taught age appropriately I believe them. Dont you?

I recall many years ago a similar debate with the Merchant of Venice. It was the CJC's position then as well that the concepts of M of V are better dealt with in later grades as opposed to grade 9 or 10. Eventually after many studies and a scholarly review by the late Professor Charles Haines, an eminent Shakespearean scholar, almost all school boards came to agree. There is much written about this. CJC as I understand were good to their word and endorsed school board decisions to move the teaching of the play too a later grade. On this past performance I am assuming they would do the same here.


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Michelle
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posted 06 March 2006 07:40 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
Well it would be naive to think that politics didnt play some role but if CJC says it would have no problem with the work taught age appropriately I believe them. Dont you?

Well, gosh, if the CJC says so, then I guess I have to agree! Sorry, I think for myself, ohara, and I don't feel like stepping into that kind of rhetorical trap.

I haven't read the book, so actually, I guess I can't really say whether I think it's appropriate for a 9 or 10 year-old to read. But I'll tell you something - just because a book award agency, a religious/political lobbying group, or even the author suggests a certain age cut-off for a book doesn't mean I will automatically agree with it. I might, but it would be on my own terms, not just because some authority told me so. I don't check my brain at the door, especially when it comes to children's literature, sorry.


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skeptikool
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posted 06 March 2006 10:35 PM      Profile for skeptikool        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
saber,

quote:
What is the message? Families of suicide bombers are human?

Perhaps as human as the sniper who kills and lives to kill again, or one who sprays machine gun fire from a helicopter.

I just wish that both realized that they have been used. Perhaps such books may help to bring some to that conclusion.


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 07 March 2006 02:49 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If Palestinian and Israeli kids are able to live through this situation and talk about it, why couldn't Canadian kids be capable of reading about it and understanding it?

Some here have argued that this book not be included in the grades 4-6 curriculum. That doesn't appear to be the issue, which is stated in the initial post as being "The York Region District School Board is strongly discouraging grades 4-6 students from reading Three Wishes..."

This makes sense, though, if one thinks that the primary purpose of the schools system is socialization, not learning. If the schools can prevent children from reading about Israel and Palestine and learning about life there, they are doing their job.


quote:
What is the message? Families of suicide bombers are human?

That's not the principal message I got from the film, which is that suicide bombing is the manifestation of the moral collapse of both Israeli and Palestinian societies. Suicide bombing is by no means glorified.


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Cueball
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posted 07 March 2006 03:44 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I remember that certain organizations succesfully managed to censor Zarah Khazami's work from being shown in a library in Montreal recently for similar reasons. The reason of course being that they showed life under the Israeli occupation of Palestine from a Palestinian perspective.

It seems these same organizations are doing the same here for politcal reasons but using different excuses.

The book sounds great. In particular it might be useful in helping children learn to understand how differing viewpoints arise in conflict situations, and even relevant in serving as a means to teach children about conflict resolution.

The usual forces aligned with the Zionist cause are of course predictably trying to shut down and discourse which humanizes Palestinians, before children have been cultured into adopting the pro-Zionist position.


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ohara
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posted 07 March 2006 08:10 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes Cueball its those darn Zionists

BTW the title of this thread is misleading. I do not believe anyone has called for a "ban" on "Three Wishes" any more than someone has called for a "ban" on the teaching of algebra in grade one.


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Michelle
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posted 07 March 2006 08:23 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
Yes Cueball its those darn Zionists

Well, who else is it? I don't see any Palestinian organizations calling for school boards to tell parents not to let their kids read this book, even though the Israeli side is also presented. Is it just a coincidence that this book just HAPPENS to be about the Israel-Palestine conflict when the CJC got involved? Does the CJC vet the school reading lists for all other topics too?

You yourself have admitted you think there are probably politics involved. Even though the book has children from both sides of the conflict sharing their views.


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ohara
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posted 07 March 2006 06:01 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As I noted here before the cjc seems interested in issues that impact the Jewish community. Seems reasonable. That said there also seems to be a number of parents apart from cjc that complained and all in all a number of schoolboards seem to have agreed. It would have been more honest to have said Jewish groups than applying Zionists which I believe is wrongly seen as pajoritive.
Secondly Michelle you always are quick to agree or disagree when thread titles are misrepresented. Unless one can show where and how there has been a call to "ban" this book I blieve this thread title MUST be changed

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Serendipity
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posted 07 March 2006 06:26 PM      Profile for Serendipity     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We read Underground to Canada when I was in grade 5.

For anyone who hasn't heard of it, it covers the American slave trade and abolishionists from the perspective of young slaves. The protagonists were around our age if I remember correctly. And if memory serves, there were even first-hand depcitions of lashings and violence.

We were nine and ten, and could totally handle the material. We all looked forward to the reading sessions, because the content was so much more interesting than the other yawning bullshit we read.
Those afternoons in the classroom, taking turns reading out loud was where I first became interested in history and politics. So bring on the book. I say the younger the better.


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ohara
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posted 07 March 2006 08:11 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know the book of which you speak and it was quite suitable for that age group as I recall.
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Skinny Dipper
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posted 07 March 2006 08:54 PM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was the one who placed "Book Ban" in the thread title. I had no problem using the word "Ban" even if a small segment of the population is not permitted to read the book. I don't object to school boards banning books and other literature. Some are quite obvious such as pornographic magazines. I sometimes wonder about other bans. Is a ban request by a family because that family does not their own child reading a particular book or because they don't want other children reading that book?

Some books are banned because of old racist stereotypes. I remember the Songtime music books for grades 4, 5, and 6. I still have a copy and remembered singing, as listed, the Negro spirituals many years ago. I don't see any of those music books today in the schools. I wonder why.

Back to the bans:

The Freedom to Read website has a few thoughts on how to spot a censor:

quote:
How to Spot a Would-Be Censor
The type of person who challenges books

Invariably denies being in favour of censorship;
Has rarely read the work in whole or often even in part;
Quotes excerpts out of context;
Demonizes the author and his/her other works.


I think this is all I am going to write about this topic. See you in the next realm.


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ohara
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posted 07 March 2006 09:01 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In my view and as you rightly point out there is a difference between a ban and what can be defined as curriculum choices.
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Michelle
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posted 25 March 2006 12:55 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I hardly think Deborah Ellis's Three Wishes, a book of interviews with Palestinian and Israeli kids, is “age inappropriate” for kids in Grades 4 to 6, as the Canadian Jewish Congress claims. The world our kids live in is age inappropriate, but they have to live there. So do schools, libraries and authors.

Rick Salutin


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ohara
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posted 25 March 2006 10:49 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bottom line for me and I believe most people is this; school curriculum professionals are trusted by society to make correct choices in age-appropriate literature. Its my guess that school boards get complaints all the time one way or another. That's why certain books and subjects are taught at certain times in a child's growth.

Rick is a great writer but I would hardly trust him on curriculum design as I wouldnt trust the CJC either. Im satisfied when school professionals do their job and for the most part am prepared to live with their decision


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Cueball
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posted 25 March 2006 11:23 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Looks like the CJC attempt to silence free speech is paying off in spades. The restirictions on the book have piqued interest, and my local bookseller has sold out of thier original 20 copies and are buying more.

Fortunately teachers can special request the book, and I am imagine that a book that might very well have been headed into educational obscurity will now become a classic.

Good work Bernie Farber.

[ 25 March 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Serendipity
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posted 26 March 2006 12:29 AM      Profile for Serendipity     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The CJC and B'nai Brith often do that in the attempt to shut someone up.
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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 09:20 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can understand the frustration CJC and I guess Jews in general must feel when it has to put up with the type of misrepresentations above. I have followed this issue closely and hell for the life of me I can find no attempt at "shutting anyone up".

So I went out and also bought the book.

I read it and would have no problem with my children reading it at exactly where the publisher feels it is best suited , grade 6 and up. Its written there plain as day on the back cover. And hey quelle surprise that is exactly what the CJC asked too. But hell no one cares about what the publisher says only what cjc says.

So Serendipity and Cueball what exactly is gained by lying about the cjc position?


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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 09:26 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Then why bother bringing the issue up, if there is a publishers warning on the cover. Fucking teachers spend half their working lives freaking about being sued by the parents of their students, and are often overly cautious about the material they bring into the class room, already.

And as for how the CJC is percieved, the sales clerk at my bookseller is not nearly so savvy about the "ins and outs" of the CJC position on the issue. He just said the sales "went through the roof when the book was banned by the school board." I even corrected him on the issue, saying that there was a restriction on it, not a ban.*

Did you see the scathing attack on Bernie Farber by that Laurier professor in the Globe? Nasty!

But hell! What can we say about the way the general public percieves these constant interventions over petty issues that seem to trivialize the serious mandate to wich the CJC and the B'nai Brith have been entrusted. The CJC and the B'nai Brith are destroying the reptuations in the public mind, and undermining their credibility as tool for articualting the Canadian Jewish perspective.

"I think the lady doth nitpick too much."

Sad.

*Are you proud of me?

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 09:52 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually Cueball I did see that letter but I had no idea what the professor was writing about. I didnt see any article by Farber in the Globe and Mail. I even went back and checked my old copies this week. Strange.


That said and whatever the good professor was writing about, I honestly don't know how anyone can see this issue as one of censorship. First the publisher says it should be read no earlier than grade 6 and a number of school borads agreed. Others did not. I did see a letter t the Globe and Mail from a principal of a Montessori school that nicely put into their place those who think curriculum decisions are censorship. That letter was much more to the point than the one from the professor.
Seems these issues and decisions on curriculum are made all the time, no? So why pick on cjc? It has as much right as you to make a point in a free society. You can agree or disagree. That seems to me exactly what a variety of school boards have done. And yet the Jews get blamed for banning books. That really stinks!

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]


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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 09:56 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Anyway, it is not just an age restriction, it is also an adminstrative restriction of some sort is it not? The teachers have to special request the book. Is that not the case?
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Joel_Goldenberg
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posted 26 March 2006 09:56 AM      Profile for Joel_Goldenberg        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
[QB]I remember that certain organizations succesfully managed to censor Zarah Khazami's work from being shown in a library in Montreal recently for similar reasons. The reason of course being that they showed life under the Israeli occupation of Palestine from a Palestinian perspective.

It seems these same organizations are doing the same here for politcal reasons but using different excuses.
QB]


It wasn't organizations in the Cote St. Luc case, it was at least one particular resident and maybe a few others.


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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 09:57 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Good to know.
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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 10:01 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
Anyway, it is not just an age restriction, it is also an adminstrative restriction of some sort is it not? The teachers have to special request the book. Is that not the case?

I guess it depends on the school board. In my area its not taught in the grade 4-6 curriculum but available in the school library. I spoke with the school librarian who feels that a grade 4 child would have great difficulty with the book. So it seems rather individual to the Board.

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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 10:02 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And Cue, you never answered my question, what was that professor writing about?
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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 10:05 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
Actually Cueball I did see that letter but I had no idea what the professor was writing about. I didnt see any article by Farber in the Globe and Mail. I even went back and checked my old copies this week. Strange.


That said and whatever the good professor was writing about, I honestly don't know how anyone can see this issue as one of censorship. First the publisher says it should be read no earlier than grade 6 and a number of school borads agreed. Others did not. I did see a letter t the Globe and Mail from a principal of a Montessori school that nicely put into their place those who think curriculum decisions are censorship. That letter was much more to the point than the one from the professor.
Seems these issues and decisions on curriculum are made all the time, no? So why pick on cjc? It has as much right as you to make a point in a free society. You can agree or disagree. That seems to me exactly what a variety of school boards have done. And yet the Jews get blamed for banning books. That really stinks!


ohara, I believe the piece by Farber to which the letter writer was responding ran in the online edition of the Globe. I didn't read it either, but I saw it advertised.

I wonder, too, whether you've read Salutin's article carefully, since he points out something you seem to have missed in the CJC's position:

quote:
The CJC says the interviews “demonize both sides as murderous and irrational.”

As I wrote in the other thread, closed now as a duplicate, that looks to me like a contradiction in the CJC's position. How can they go on pretending that their only concern is with the "age-appropriate" (and gawd, but that has to be the number-one smarmy euphemism of our times, that use of "appropriate") when they also take such an absolute position on the contents?

I remember being a reader of nine and ten. Already I was too smart to mask reality by hiding behind prissy-speak about what is "appropriate."

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: skdadl ]


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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 10:06 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Joel_Goldenberg:

It wasn't organizations in the Cote St. Luc case, it was at least one particular resident and maybe a few others.


But didn't you yourself say:

quote:
While Canadian Jewish Congress had no comment, B’nai Brith Canada supports CôteSt. HampWest, said executive vice-president Frank Dimant.

“We fully, fully stand behind the strong action by Robert Libman,” said Diment. “He acquitted himself with dignity in handling a very sensitive matter.”

But leftists seized on the issue. Concordia professor Lillian Robinson led a protest outside the library Friday, where she compared CôteSt.HampWest’s administration to Iran.


Or is this a different Joel Goldenberg

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 10:10 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
And Cue, you never answered my question, what was that professor writing about?

He was talking about Bernie Farber of the CJC congratulating the school board for taking the position that it did, as if the school board's decision was some brilliant brains storm of its own, not at all motiviated by the behind the scenes arm twisting of the CJC. That seemed to be the gyst of it.

He was suggesting it was a sleazy misrepresentation of the facts for political propoganda effect.

Kind of like making it sound like the opposition to the Kazemi exhibition in Montreal was entirely motivated by indivdual intiative, and not also backed up with some significant organizational resources.

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 10:20 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Behind the scenes armtwisting", come on Cue not even you can believe that. It has been in virtually every newspaper in the country for weeks. Lets try to be a bit more careful here.

And skdadl, I understand your point but mine is different. Despite how CJC makes its point i believe it has the right to do so as we have the right to make ours. Then it is up to school boards to make a decision. That is why it seems to me we have curriculum designers in place to make these decisions.

I am pissed off more at those who point fingers at the Jews or Jewish groups for exercising its democratic right. You and I may disagree at times with what it asks and we have the right to present our views. But so doing is the basis of freedom in our society. Yet only the Jews it seems get labeled as book banners and censors. I see no censorship here. I simply do not think that is fair. As that montessori principal explained in in his letter to the Globe, if this is censorship it gives it a whole new meaning!


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 10:25 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
ohara, I believe the piece by Farber to which the letter writer was responding ran in the online edition of the Globe. I didn't read it either, but I saw it advertised.


Is there any way this piece can be linked to here? I think its only fair we should be able to read it so we can respond fairly.

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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 10:33 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, ohara, I will try the same thing you could try, which is sailing about the Grope and Flail site a bit. I don't have an online sub, and I suspect that Farber's piece would be behind the sub wall, but I shall try.

Sometimes, if you can pick up the first few words of a piece, you can get it through Google News. But we'd need the few words.


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 10:35 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey! Presto chango! Here it is.
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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 10:55 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
I am pissed off more at those who point fingers at the Jews or Jewish groups

Okay, no one pointed fingers at "the Jews" over this, so don't you dare start that crap. There's a difference between criticizing a lobby group and criticizing "the Jews".


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 11:15 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So, ok, ohara: I have read Farber's column. What I pick up from it: a deep and abiding faith in school boards and a fairly sarcastic reference to the provincial librarians' association.

Well, gee. That is not often going to be the way I would go, y'know? School boards are made up of politicians. Librarians' associations are made up of, well, librarians - those people who work really hard at getting books and readers together?

I also went back and read Professor Kerr's follow-up letter. He notes that Farber omitted to mention that the school boards did not review the book until after the boards had received a letter from the CJC. He also notes that some of those school boards have now made the book available, even to older children, only by special request.

I would be interested to know where Salutin got that line in which the CJC contradicts itself, since Farber's Globe column remains at the level of abstract euphemism.

"Appropriate." Oh, gag me with a spoon. No one who loves the English language would ever use that word that way.


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johnpauljones
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posted 26 March 2006 11:48 AM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thank you skdal for the link. first let me say that we should distinguish between school boards and educational professionals. skdal is right that school board members are elected and are therefore political. Educators (we hope) assess material and then arrive at conclusions. In this respect then Farber is quite right about curriculum decisions and choices. btw skdadl, a good friend of mine belongs to the Ontario Library Association. Don't think for one moment that there isn't heavy politics involved in that organization too.

michelle is correct when she points out that there is a difference between Jewish organizations and "Jews". I can though appreciate how "Jews" may get the impression especially in this case, that picking on the congress for simply stating their point of view is a little much.

As for Rick Salutin's article, I thought it was pretty fair. The fact that the congress wrote a letter about "Three Wishes" which led to the review is important but I thought I read somewhere that parents and other teachers complained as well.? as ohara writes it certainly has the righ to do so. And we can critisize the congress if we wish.

personally i thought the letter in the Globe and Flail by Mr. Burstyn (he's the school proncipal mentioned by ohara)was totally on point. I don't believe that principles of censorship arise when educators exercise their discretion to determine what material is suitable for study by children. We may want to ask educators what criteria it used to arrive at its decision but to evoke the spectre of censorship in this case especially by the cjc leaves me with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Here is another article actually written by a cjc educator which i thought interesting and useful for this discussion.

cjc on Three Wishes


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 12:00 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
jpj wrote:

quote:
I can though appreciate how "Jews" may get the impression especially in this case, that picking on the congress for simply stating their point of view is a little much.

So you're saying that all Jews got that impression?

jpj: I think we have just a little too much evidence to the contrary.


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johnpauljones
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posted 26 March 2006 12:03 PM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
excuse my over generalization. In fact I shouldn't have pointed at Jews specifically but at some people in general. thanks as always skdadl for pointing these things out.

edited to add: there was one thing that critics of cjc seem unwilling to comment on and perhaps you might; both farber and miles point out that the publisher of the book has recommeneded it be read by grade 6 and above. Everything I have read about the cjc's position seems to suggest it supports the publisher's recommendation. has anyone here or anywhere else suggested that the publisher is engaging in trying to censor this book for children in earlier grades?

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: johnpauljones ]


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Serendipity
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posted 26 March 2006 12:06 PM      Profile for Serendipity     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
I can understand the frustration CJC and I guess Jews in general must feel when it has to put up with the type of misrepresentations above. I have followed this issue closely and hell for the life of me I can find no attempt at "shutting anyone up".

CJC and Bnai Brith seem to do little else these days except tryping to shut various people up who don't conform to their worldview, and yes, those are words are the exact ones I would use to describe it.

It is not the worldview that every Jew shares so leave that card up your sleeve, please. Both Cueball and I are Jewish; and besides, you know better.

They do this all the time:

Their campaign to quell criticism of Israel on campuses across Canada, their assault on Norm MacDonald's reporting with the CBC, and on and on, and now this with a children's book.

Their attack on SPHR Concordia was a very interesting one, because at the time of the anti-Netanyahu protests half of SPHR's executive was Jewish. The lead organizer was too. And you're telling me that they do this for the Jewish Community? I think they've fallen off the wagon.

ohara: They just don't represent us anymore. Commiting and then defending military atrocities is profoundly un-Jewish. That's not the Judaism I signed up for.

This is: Rabbis for Human Rights.


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 12:23 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by johnpauljones:
Everything I have read about the cjc's position seems to suggest it supports the publisher's recommendation. has anyone here or anywhere else suggested that the publisher is engaging in trying to censor this book for children in earlier grades?


Actually, although I found it a frustratingly abbreviated and badly explained report, there was a squib in the Grope - in the Review section, I think - in which both the publisher and the author objected to the CJC's characterization of their position. I think the publisher held a press conference last week; the author is travelling; but neither agrees with the CJC.

Again, I return to that line that Salutin has quoted. Obviously, the CJC has somewhere spoken of more than just the "age-appropriate." And that would appear to have disturbed both publisher and author.


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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 12:23 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
So you're saying that all Jews got that impression?

No kidding. And "picking on the Congress"? Give me a bloody break. No, jpj, we're doing a funny little thing called DISAGREEING with "the Congress". You know. Stating our opinion. The thing you think that "the Congress" should be able to do. Except you seem to think that "the Congress" should be able to do it without any opposition. Otherwise, those in opposition can be labelled as people who "pick on the Congress". Which supposedly makes Jews feel targeted. Even though you admit that "the Congress" does not necessarily speak for all Jews.

So, how would you suggest people who strongly disagree with "the Congress" express their disagreement? Maybe you could release not only your opinion on the matter, but also tell us our opinion on the matter as well - or at least how to express it.


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Serendipity
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posted 26 March 2006 12:30 PM      Profile for Serendipity     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing is, the CJC does claim to represent the whole community. Forget criticizing it, I call for it to be reformed or dismantled.
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johnpauljones
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posted 26 March 2006 12:53 PM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:

No kidding. And "picking on the Congress"? Give me a bloody break. No, jpj, we're doing a funny little thing called DISAGREEING with "the Congress". You know. Stating our opinion. The thing you think that "the Congress" should be able to do. Except you seem to think that "the Congress" should be able to do it without any opposition. Otherwise, those in opposition can be labelled as people who "pick on the Congress". Which supposedly makes Jews feel targeted. Even though you admit that "the Congress" does not necessarily speak for all Jews.

So, how would you suggest people who strongly disagree with "the Congress" express their disagreement? Maybe you could release not only your opinion on the matter, but also tell us our opinion on the matter as well - or at least how to express it.


i would only suggest that you do not claim it is doing something it is not (forgive horrible English). To accuse it of censoring and book banning is wrong.

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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 01:13 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, strictly speaking, it is only government that can "ban" or "censor."

So of course the CJC cannot ban or censor anything. They can support or even urge banning or censoring, though, and they seem to have placed their trust in this case in government/political bodies.


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 01:27 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Anyway, I think it is a shame how far this discussion has wandered into examining the motives of dreadful politicized adults.

Salutin's column seemed to me a great attempt to think through children's experience of violence and their experience of learning about the violence that others experience.

Some of us remember how young we were when the horrors of the adult world became clear to us. And of course, no child of any age in the Middle East is free from the knowledge that horror may rain down at any moment.

The reflective mind, which we have to assume kicks in by at least age six or seven, is always going to struggle to make sense of raw experience. Salutin wrote about the ways in which simple and honest stories, told directly by those who have lived them, can help others to learn, as he says, not what to think but how to think - how to compare, how to stand in someone else's shoes, how to empathize, how to get over demonizing others.

We have had the testimony of a number of nine- and ten-year-olds who claim that Three Wishes did precisely that for them. (See, eg, letter from "Julia" in the G&M.)

So ... what was the problem again?


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 02:30 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Obviously, the CJC has somewhere spoken of more than just the "age-appropriate." And that would appear to have disturbed both publisher and author.

"obviously"?? nothing obvious other than what we have seen and heard. And what I have seen and heard suggests that CJC had asked for the boards to review the work in terms of age-appropriateness. In fact it has done noting more it seems to me than ask exactly what the publisher asked ...that it be used by children in grades 6 and up. Funny that no one calls the publisher a censor. There is nothing else "obvious"

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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 02:35 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So of course the CJC cannot ban or censor anything. They can support or even urge banning or censoring, though, and they seem to have placed their trust in this case in government/political bodies.


They have not supported banning or censoring. Farber's example of the Merchant of Venice I think is a good one. Was it "banned" in grade 7? And school educational professionals take their work pretty seriously, certainly as seriously as anyone from the OLA. Curriculum professionals are not "elected" , these people are hired for their skill set. Or would you suggest that 8 year olds plan their own curriculum?

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 03:28 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
"obviously"?? nothing obvious other than what we have seen and heard. And what I have seen and heard suggests that CJC had asked for the boards to review the work in terms of age-appropriateness. In fact it has done noting more it seems to me than ask exactly what the publisher asked ...that it be used by children in grades 6 and up. Funny that no one calls the publisher a censor. There is nothing else "obvious"

God, ohara. Do you bother to read what anyone else writes? Did you bother to read Salutin, who reports:

quote:
The CJC says the interviews “demonize both sides as murderous and irrational.”

Salutin is quoting that from somewhere. He says the CJC said that. That is obviously "something more." That is quite a bit "something more."

And Salutin was quoting that in the Globe and Mail. I don't think he would get away with just making that up in the Globe and Mail.


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Wilf Day
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posted 26 March 2006 03:37 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
Well it would be naive to think that politics didn't play some role.

It should not. There's nothing unusual about teachers, department heads and principals making judgments about age-appropriateness of books. It's an everyday event.

School trustees should not be involved. When I was first elected a trustee in 1982, our board had a policy that, for any book a teacher wanted to use which was not on Ministry-approved lists or Board-approved lists (which 99% were), a trustee had to read it, to screen it for any problems. Every June we each got a couple of books for our summer reading, to hand in our book reviews in August.

It was a joke. Mind you, I did raise one red flag: a trashy book for Grade 9 Basic level kids (the lowest level -- hard to get them to read anything) which featured a few questionable attitudes to women. We didn't ban it, we asked the department head to review it, and exercise caution. After a few years we changed the policy, and quit doing book reviews, which we had no qualifications to do.

Saying a book should not be used below a certain grade level is NOT "banning" a book. Anyone who writes to a school board saying "we'd like you to check this book for age-appropriateness" is not asking that it be banned. Again, nothing unusual about it. What's unusual is if the trustees get involved. If the teaching staff aren't sure what to do, and pass the buck to the trustees, the trustees should hand it right back.


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 03:40 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
They have not supported banning or censoring. Farber's example of the Merchant of Venice I think is a good one. Was it "banned" in grade 7? And school educational professionals take their work pretty seriously, certainly as seriously as anyone from the OLA. Curriculum professionals are not "elected" , these people are hired for their skill set. Or would you suggest that 8 year olds plan their own curriculum?


Y'know, ohara, you are developing some credibility problems.

Did anyone - ANYONE? - ever propose teaching the Merchant of Venice - or any other Shakespeare play - in grade 7, ever? EVER?

My understanding is that the CJC argued to have study of the Merchant moved back from, maybe grades 9/10 to grades 11/12 (or that weird other grade you used to have in Ontario). I have never before heard anyone mention grade 7.

The problem with teaching an entire Shakespeare play in grade 7 would be language level. I'm sure there are lots of twelve- and thirteen-year-olds who could learn Elizabethan speech patterns, but for many others that would be a steep challenge.

And wtf is a "school educational professional," ohara? Seriously: where do you get this crappy MBA language? We're talking about school boards here. School boards are political creatures. "Professional" is a crappy euphemism that can mean bloody anything, which is why dishonest people use it when they want to duck the truth.

Call Purolator, and listen to their robot ask you to wait until one of their "trained professionals" can take your call.

"Professional," to me, like "appropriate" as used by the CJC and school boards, is very close to a dirty word, ohara. It signifies a mind that has either died or has some reason to dissemble.


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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 03:45 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The author's response

quote:
The author of the book that has drawn school boards, writers groups and the Canadian Jewish Congress into fierce debate says she is disappointed by the controversy.

Reached during a stop in Indiana on the weekend, Deborah Ellis said that when she heard people were concerned that her book, Three Wishes, was promoting suicide bombings, she was beyond shocked -- she was upset.



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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 03:46 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The decision last week by the Toronto District School Board to limit access to Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis spawned a spectacular outburst today from the publishing and author community in protest. PEN International was the lead organization for this event and was the first in a long parade of eloquent and powerful statements defending the rights of children not only to read the book but to need to read the book. The press conference included representatives from the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council, the Writers' Union of Canada, People for Education, and Groundwood Press, the book's publisher. Children's author Lawrence Hill spoke and brought his remarkable Grade Four step-daughter, Evie Freedman to talk about the book and her reaction to it. Freelance writer John Lorinc focused on the availability of equally stressing material on the Holocaust, in which many of his own family were lost, a topic that is discussed widely within the Jewish and world community without the restrictions with which this book has been threatened. 2005 Giller Prize nominee Edeet Ravel added her authority to the content of the book and June Callwood read a statement from author Deborah Ellis who was on tour in the United States. Callwood expressed her astonishment that she found herself in this position of defending a book from school censorship, something she thought had ended with The Diviners. The packed event was subject of CBC's National News this evening.

Scroll down to March 20th.


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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 03:51 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
And Salutin was quoting that in the Globe and Mail. I don't think he would get away with just making that up in the Globe and Mail.

Nope, he wasn't.

quote:
In a February 8 letter from the Canadian Jewish Council (which was also sent to every English-language school district in the province), the group asked OLA to withdraw Three Wishes from the shortlist. Characterizing 17 quotes from the interviewees as “demoniz[ing] both sides as murderous and irrational,” Frank Bialystok, chair of CJC’s Ontario Community Relations Committee, wrote, “Schools should be a place where sensitive issues are dealt with in a sensitive fashion.”

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Cueball
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posted 26 March 2006 04:12 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
"obviously"?? nothing obvious other than what we have seen and heard. And what I have seen and heard suggests that CJC had asked for the boards to review the work in terms of age-appropriateness. In fact it has done noting more it seems to me than ask exactly what the publisher asked ...that it be used by children in grades 6 and up. Funny that no one calls the publisher a censor. There is nothing else "obvious"

I think though, as a "school educational professional" (read employed teacher) has just explained the reason for the publishers recommendation for "age approriateness" is in reagrds to the reading and comprehension level of the text, not its content. Most childrens books are so rated.

In this case the position being put forth (that the CJC is doing nothing more than insisting that the publishers guidelines be followed) is dishonest as the CJC reasoning is based on the content, not on the difficulty of the text.


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N.Beltov
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posted 26 March 2006 04:27 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I understand that "won't understand" is quite different from "can't understand". This sort of mis-understanding is understood by many.
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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 05:06 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And so you put forward the CJC's reasons why it feels that it is age inappropriate. On that we can agree or disagree. Bottom line is that like the publisher, albeit for different reasons, cjc wants it taught at grade 6 and up.

Skdadl, dont go off the deep end, i meant grade 9 (yes where I took M of V) not grade 7. Sorry to give you a kinipshin. Same question would you argue then that the Merchant is "banned" in grade 9? And really what would you call educators who work (are not elected) but are HIRED to work for the school board? Maybe we should just scrap school boards altogether let thye children run the schools.


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 05:07 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
In a February 8 letter from the Canadian Jewish Council (which was also sent to every English-language school district in the province), the group asked OLA to withdraw Three Wishes from the shortlist. Characterizing 17 quotes from the interviewees as “demoniz[ing] both sides as murderous and irrational,” Frank Bialystok, chair of CJC’s Ontario Community Relations Committee, wrote, “Schools should be a place where sensitive issues are dealt with in a sensitive fashion.”
What exactly is wrong with Mr. Bialystok's satement?

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 05:40 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:

Saying a book should not be used below a certain grade level is NOT "banning" a book. Anyone who writes to a school board saying "we'd like you to check this book for age-appropriateness" is not asking that it be banned. Again, nothing unusual about it. What's unusual is if the trustees get involved. If the teaching staff aren't sure what to do, and pass the buck to the trustees, the trustees should hand it right back.


This is precisely my point. However it seems to me that since cjc asked it is a problem. Why is that?

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Michelle
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posted 26 March 2006 06:09 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
This is precisely my point. However it seems to me that since cjc asked it is a problem. Why is that?

Gee, ohara, why don't you tell us why you think that is?


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 06:17 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
What exactly is wrong with Mr. Bialystok's satement?


In the sense that Mr Bialystok is entitled to his own opinion, nothing is wrong, of course.

In the sense that you and the CJC have both been claiming - loudly and repeatedly - that your only concern was with the "age-appropriateness" of this book, Mr Bialystok's statement, made in his official capacity as a representative of the CJC, would seem to demonstrate otherwise.

Have a nice day.


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 06:23 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

quote riginally posted by Wilf Day:

Saying a book should not be used below a certain grade level is NOT "banning" a book. Anyone who writes to a school board saying "we'd like you to check this book for age-appropriateness" is not asking that it be banned. Again, nothing unusual about it. What's unusual is if the trustees get involved. If the teaching staff aren't sure what to do, and pass the buck to the trustees, the trustees should hand it right back.

And then ohara replied:

This is precisely my point. However it seems to me that since cjc asked it is a problem. Why is that?


Y'know, ohara, I really am beginning to think that you have reading problems.

You are clearly not grasping Wilf's point, and you are clearly not making the same point.

Wilf does seem to agree that stupid discussions about reading-level or age-appropriate material are common enough and do not constitute banning.

Well: obviously, the requests or the discussions don't, stupid as they usually are.

But orders issued by a school board, which is a governmental body, certainly would constitute banning, and there, if I am reading Wilf correctly, he and you part company.

Doesn't he say, pretty clearly there, that the trustees should be handing these issues back to the teachers? (And I would add the librarians.)

I think I see a sentence that says that, ohara.


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Wilf Day
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posted 26 March 2006 06:33 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
But orders issued by a school board, which is a governmental body, certainly would constitute banning, and there, if I am reading Wilf correctly, he and you part company.

The press has, understandably, problems with the term "school board." It's ambiguous: it may mean the administration, or it may mean the trustees. Municipally there's no problem: you have the City, and you have City Council. With the school board, they are the same term.

The "school board" administration routinely decides which books are appropriate for what grade levels, with input from school librarians, reading specialists, principals, and so on, but not from the trustees. As it should be. A comment from the CJC is just one more input.

Could someone please clarify whether any of these school boards treated this as a political decision, made by the trustees?


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skdadl
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posted 26 March 2006 06:38 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How is a comment from the CJC "just one more input"?

The CJC is a political group. Librarians and teachers are not. How on earth can you equate them?


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 07:47 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No elected school board officials have made any decision on this matter. It seems that you skdadl are the confused one. Wilf has tried to explain the difference between school admimistrators and elected school officials. To date where school boards have made a decision on this book it came feom the administration. Precisely where it should come from.

BTW skdadl, cjc and even you are entitled to have input. No one has to take either input into consideration. But in a democratic society we are all aloowed input...hell even politicians are allowed input.


And Michelle your sarcasm frankly deserves to be ignored. Have a good evening.


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 07:52 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
The CJC is a political group. Librarians and teachers are not. How on earth can you equate them?
CJC is a representative organization. Tt can be small "p" political as can teachers and librarians through their representative organizations the OLA and the OTF.

BTW a number of teachers have also sided with those school administrators that have suggested the book be taught at a higher grade, Though what many here fail to comprehend is that this book isnt even taught in school. It is only available as independent reading. Hence the concerns beibg expressed by many,


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Skinny Dipper
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posted 26 March 2006 10:03 PM      Profile for Skinny Dipper   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One thing teachers know is that students have different levels of reading ability. In grades four and five, it is possible to see students reading books such as Geronimo Stilton, Captain Underpants, The Babysitters Club, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Geronimo Stilton is a chapter book that has many cartoon like drawings to assist the reader. The Diary of Anne Frank may have a few photos depending on the edition. Otherwise it is a book written at a grade 10-12 level.

Three Wishes is written at a grade six level. This does not mean that a grade four student cannot read this book. Some students have the ability to read and comprehend this book. It may not attract the interests of those who are currently reading Geronimo Stilton or Captain Underpants.

I noticed Three Wishes was restricted in school boards that have higher than the Canadian average of Jewish populations in terms of percentage. Toronto and York have large Jewish populations. Kingston does not. Edmonton does not. The book is not restricted or banned in Kingston or Edmonton. I will still say that banning or restricting the book was primarily a political decision, not an educational one.


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ohara
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posted 26 March 2006 10:19 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I guess the Ottawa Catholic Board of education must have a high Jewish population too. As does the Greater Essex school board and the Niagara Board of education. CJN

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: ohara ]


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Wilf Day
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posted 26 March 2006 10:44 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ohara:
No elected school board officials have made any decision on this matter.

As it should be.
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
How is a comment from the CJC "just one more input"?

The CJC is a political group. Librarians and teachers are not. How on earth can you equate them?



As a school trustee in Toronto, I would not have; they represent more voters. As a reading specialist on the book review committee (or whatever it's called), I would treat it as a comment from a group of parents, deserving of consideration, but less consideration than input from librarians and teachers. Although I expect I would claim I gave parents equal consideration.

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Joel_Goldenberg
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posted 27 March 2006 08:07 AM      Profile for Joel_Goldenberg        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

Or is this a different Joel Goldenberg

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


That was a reaction after the fact. Notably, Robert Libman had complained up to that point that no Jewish organization was supporting the decision to pull the Kazemi exhibit. As I wrote above, the actual decision was prompted by complaints by a few residents. And as posted in the above link, CJC had no comment.

[ 27 March 2006: Message edited by: Joel_Goldenberg ]


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged

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