To ban or not to ban?
That is the question a principal in Western Australia is facing after some parents complained about the reading material being sent home.
Ted Kosicki, the Principal of Busselton’s Georgiana Molloy Anglican School in WA, has announced an overhaul of the entire school’s reading curriculum. And he wants to ban a whole stack of books he deems inappropriate.
Australian literature getting the boot
Which books you ask? Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the titles on the chopping block. And so are many lauded Aussie novels.
Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet may get the axe as could Craig Silvey’s brilliant coming of age novel Jasper Jones, which was recently made into a critically acclaimed movie. And even Nam Le’s The Boat, which won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2009, is on the naughty list.
All of these books deal with adult themes and are being called out for being “uncensored and crowded with inappropriate material”. Mr Kosicki, who has been the principal of the private school for six years, claims the material in these classics is abhorrent and unsuitable for year 11 and 12 students.
Parents whinge, principal bans
The decision comes after some of the parents complained about the content being too explicit.
“I shouldn’t have any recourse to ban works,” Mr Kosicki says. “If they don’t fit within our ethos, irrespective of author or work, I wouldn’t show them, or read them if they were not age appropriate.”
WA Education Minister Sue Ellery says schools are free to select any books from an approved list. None of the books are compulsory and there are plenty of books to choose from.
Concerns of censorship
However, since Mr Kosicki voiced his intentions to ban the books, other parents have voiced their concerns about literary censorship.
Many of these books on the censorship list are not only classics, but from Australian authors. They are an integral part of Australian literature, even though the authors drop a few F bombs along the way. There is some material in at least some of the novels that some readers might find upsetting. Jasper Jones, for example, touches on topics of youth suicide and sexual assault.
Of course, this isn’t the first school to censor books. American schools are massive fans of banning some of the best literature even written including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, The Catcher in the Rye and even children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are.
What are your thoughts? Do you reckon these books are a little too explicit for Year 11 and 12 students? Or do you want to keep the classics, swear words and all, in classrooms?
Parents at the WA school aren’t the only ones having a problem with books. Take another look at our article about the mum who wants Sleeping Beauty pulled from school library shelves.