ERIC Number: ED267446
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Controversial Texts and Public Education.
Smith, David L.
Because public schools are designed to serve the widest range of interests and are committed to the ideal of democracy, teachers cannot afford to avoid teaching works or presenting ideas that offend some members of communities. Students need to learn the value of controversy and of the challenges posed by a text. Richard Wright's "Native Son" and Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" are valuable novels because of the problems they pose and because they are complicated and subtle texts raising troubling issues. Six skills must be applied to understand these novels: the ability (1) to recognize irony and satire; (2) to relate a text to its historical context; (3) to analyze an argument; (4) to recognize specific rhetorical strategies within a work; (5) to analyze metaphors, symbols, and other literary tropes; and (6) to analyze point of view in a narrative. Study of such literary works helps students learn to think critically, read attentively and perceptively, and make their own judgments regarding which texts best serve their interests. The teacher's main responsibility in teaching controversial texts is to help students understand what makes texts controversial and how to reach their own conclusions. (EL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (75th, Philadelphia, PA, November 22-27, 1985).