I read another tweet from the founder of #ProjectLit, Jarred Amato, about The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. In two occasions he’s used this text as his go-to for discussing how we should abandon old, irrelevant texts in our classrooms. And I get it, I really do. Post #22 speaks to the canon. But here is a another secret of upholding systemic racism in our schools, classrooms, and libraries: some “white canon, colonized” books take up oxygen we could be using to read others’ beautiful works. And–and here’s the catch–we can still use them as historical texts as examples of themes, context, and ideas. And he’s also right.
Whole lotta white gaze going on here
Students do not need to read The Scarlet Letter (or any other “classic” text) to become successful readers & writers. Crazy how many adults think they do. #ProjectLITchat— Jarred Amato (@jarredamato) June 21, 2018
The issue is we English teachers get stuck on our books. We fall in love with a text, and stay put. Grounded. Stubborn. We defend these texts with passion and lizard-brain emotion. And I mean white teachers, if I was being too subtle. Over my fifteen years of teaching, even recently, there is still so much “othering” of books written by authors of color, global viewpoints, etc. It’s become a binary conversation: this or that. White books or Non-white books. But here’s the thing: let go. Just–let go. Look at your canon and take out what is worth discussing, and eschew the rest. Don’t teach the entire novel. Have it as a reference for a timeline, but otherwise, release. Relook. Review. There are brilliant educators doing the work right now, in real time, who can help you find better novels with thematic clarity, relevancy, and rich, deep philosophies.
Shared on Donalyn Miller’s feed: Weeding Out Racism’s Invisible Roots: Rethinking Children’s Classics | Opinion
Important School Library Journal post from Padma Venkatraman about the importance of reading and sharing #ownvoices books instead of timeworn “classics” that perpetuate harmful stereotypes:“Powerful books can transport us to different places and times and also transplant us, temporarily, into a character’s body. Protagonists haunt us, move us, and sometimes spur us to act by sowing empathy and respect for diversity.Conversely, exposing young people to stories in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm may sow seeds of bias that can grow into indifference or prejudice.”https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=weeding-out-racisms-invisible-roots-rethinking-childrens-classics-libraries-diverse-books&fbclid=IwAR1tLqUM20kaVeIF9b-8GFyEsN3LNG7JkXdUKWZpPksNbvncHVDazqYDTqE
And I would ask that you bookmark this, watch it, take notes, keep, review, and place high on your priority list.