WMU News

Climate is ripe for classroom censorship

Aug. 9, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- In a climate where public schools are under considerable scrutiny, teachers are realizing the need to explain carefully what they teach and why, according to Dr. Ellen H. Brinkley, WMU professor of English and author of "Caught Off Guard: Teachers Rethinking Censorship and Controversy." While parents seldom question the medication and treatment doctors prescribe for their children, parents today sometimes resist teaching methods that differ from those they remember from their own school days.

"There's less willingness to accept teachers' word that what they have chosen is the best," Brinkley says.

The result can be censorship of curriculum materials or broader controversy within a school district. In such a climate, teachers shouldn't simply try to "play it safe," Brinkley cautions. Instead, they need to work with parents, administrators and others who challenge what they do in the classroom. Brinkley's book helps teachers understand the climate of controversy and "know when and how to resist and when and how to seek alternatives."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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