Letter to Editor: Teaching complexity

To the Editor:

Thank you to columnist Jill Goldthwait for mentioning the proposed public school book ban now before the legislature.

It is bad enough that many text books used across the nation are racist, revisionist histories and anti-science screeds dictated by small minds on big state school boards. We need not jump on the bandwagon by throwing literature under the bus as well.

Many of those who would impose book bans on public schools exploit religion to justify their bad faith. Were they to read the Bible, instead of weaponizing it, they might want to ban that as well. The good book’s authors certainly didn’t cringe at the nasty bits and dirty corners of life.

Good literature — from the beginning of the written record to Harry Potter — describes limited characters navigating enormous complexities, constrained by the emotional and ethical contradictions of human existence. Pretending this is not the human condition, and that our children do not benefit from learning about it, is what is obscene.

Public school is a step away from one’s family and religion into the larger society. It is where children experience and learn (perhaps for the first time) that there are different, and even competing and conflicting, ideas about how to be a good person. And how to navigate, critique, and respect these differences.

Public school has an allegiance to civic society. Adept educators and librarians are able to decide on age-appropriate curricula and how to introduce and discuss complex ideas. This is a benefit rather than a threat. Families might welcome the opportunity for dialogue, for building bridges rather than walling off young minds.

Annlinn Kruger

Bar Harbor

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