Thursday, November 11, 2010

As if kids didn't hear enough bad language in high school already

This year, for the first time, my son is in a resource-room class for English instead of self-contained. And I was excited to hear, at back-to-school night, that the class would be reading Catcher in the Rye, a bona fide literary classic, something that I read and found meaningful during my own schooling. Woot! A standard high-school educational experience for the boy!

So they've gotten to it now, and the paperback has come home (as if I didn't have my very own copy in my Former English Major Collection down at the back of our laundry room), and we're reading it together so he can answer homework questions. And ... well, I'm quite a bit older now, aren't I. And certain language that was a thrill to see in print when I was in high school or college is not so thrilling to be reading aloud to my kid who I have been desperately hoping would not pick up these words and add them to his perseverative-repetition queue. And now he's hearing them directly from me, as part of his English assignment. Um, yay free speech?

I'm not going to launch a protest or anything. I'm not sure how much my son is going to understand the story, and I think I'm going to have some difficult concepts to explain going forward, but it seems like a good thing for him to be in a class that's considering serious fiction. Still, I'm a little worried about vocabulary lists. This is the same teacher who put Mongoloid on a vocabulary list when my daughter had her a few years ago, and argued with me when I complained. If my guy is asked to memorize the meaning of sonuvabitch and use it in a sentence, I am going to have to protest that.

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