Dr. Seuss books not serious enough? No educational value?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by anna9868, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    I’m shared between 2 schools (as ESL IA), and the 2 schools have pretty different atmosphere (culture?) about them, even though it’s the same district.

    Yesterday was Dr. Seuss birthday. In one of my schools it was a big deal, they created hand-made posters throughout the school, it was a spirit dress-down day. The principle sent us all email reminders, hoping as many people dress up as possible

    The other school didn’t seem to have such “Dr Seuss” celebration in the air. A few kids dressed up here and there. Very few adults . I asked a few teachers why do they think there is such a difference between the schools.

    One of them told me a very interesting reason:
    She thinks because the principle of that school doesn’t like Dr. Seuss.
    - Why? I asked her
    - Because she believes his books hold no educational value for the kids. That he is not a serious author
    .
    Hmm, I thought, that theory would definitely explain the lack of school-wide celebration. But why would a principle not like Dr. Seuss! Isn’t he the absolute favorite of the majority of kids and teachers!

    One interesting thing I learned about Dr. Seuss yesterday in that the same school with a principle-who-doesn’t-like-Seuss. He added the title “Dr” to his name NOT because he got his doctorate, but because people weren’t taking his books seriously.

    Hmmm, I thought. The principle of that school is Dr G. Maybe even that alone added to her disliking his books ? I only had a few conversations with her. But she struck me as being a bit aloof and somewhat conceited

    Anyway, the question is
    Do you know of a teacher or principle or aides who hold the same opinion about Dr. Seuss books? That they are not educational, not serious enough?

    Personally, I can hardly relate to those statements. He is my #1 children's favorite author and I just don't see how educations in school can dislike him and think his books are not beneficial to children!
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I have used countless Dr. Seuss books in my years in the classroom, all the way up to high school. That P is an old stick in the mud!
     
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  4. artbrarian

    artbrarian Rookie

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    I think you that principal should see the old video In search of Dr Seuss.
    It's pretty great and tells a lot about him in a fun and educational way through exploring the books. You can still get the DVD on amazon. Also I think it's just a great DVD to have in general. I used to show it when I taught library.
    It sounds like that P doesn't realize that a lot of his works have meanings beyond the surface and teach moral lessons.
    The Sneetches, Horton Hears a Who, The Lorax, I could go on, but I know I don't have to.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    *principal

    I like Dr. Seuss. I don't know any teacher who doesn't.
     
  6. artbrarian

    artbrarian Rookie

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    hah you know Caesar I usually never make that mistake. Typing during my planning! D'oh!
     
  7. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I don't if it's really about liking or not liking Dr. Seuss. Some principals have different priorities. Mine is absolutely a no frills kind of principal. I don't want to say that she doesn't want them to have fun at school but with so much pressure on her about numbers, testing, and bottom line academics she really doesn't press us to make it fun. There are very few days of "fun" stuff that we do and the higher the grade the less days that it is anyway. Now a few years ago when we had a different principal there were tons of "fun" days. I am not saying either one is better. I teach kindergarten so we have quite a few days of "fun" No we didn't do anything spectacular for Dr. Seuss Day. But right now all we are thinking about is Spring Break at the end of the week!!!
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Dr. Seuss. Pfft.

    If your k-3 kids aren't reading aren't discussing "War and Peace" and "Vanity Fair", you're failing as a school.

    We need to get rid of this "reading can be for enjoyment and comfort" mentality.

    Dangerous.
     
  9. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    you may be right about that. it wasn't like a formal reason, just one teacher's guess. However, she did sound quite sure of that.

    that's why I asked the question to see how common it is.
    * * * *
    Actually, this reason of not educational enough reminded me of what happened to many of russian favorite children's authors.

    My generations (of Soviet people) grew up in a country (Soviet Union) where across the whole country ALL kids read the same authors as kids. I guess we didn't have too many at that time, or maybe it had to do with Soviet propaganda (I'm not into politics/history a lot), but you ask any Russian of my generation or older, they ALL read some 10-15 favorite Soviet russian authors.

    And then, a few years ago we started hearing and reading on the internet how our favorite children's authors are now being critized harshly with those similar reasons, or even more ridiculous.

    Chukovsky, for example, was one of the favorite. Maybe someone heard about him, I've seen translations of his books in English. His style is SOMEWHAT like Dr. Seuss. Kind of crazy sometimes, funny nonsense. We loved him. I read him to my own kids, they loved him.

    The critisism would go something like: oh, there is too much violence in his books! for example, a crocodile eating the sun, that's an example of violance

    c'mon, give me a break!
     
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  10. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    If I might add a Thing 1 and Thing 2 to this discussion, as I eat my lunch of 1 fish, 2 fish (but they're fried, not a red fish or blue fish), how many high schoolers or college kids could start with a limited vocabulary and turn it into a book length poem with clever rhythm and rhyme, include an interesting plot, top it off with skillfully drawn pictures, and have a product that both kids and grownups enjoy?
     
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  11. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Well my 4 year old grand daughter loves them especially green eggs and ham.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think he's fun. But I don't think he's serious by any means. I don't know about the educational value of his works, especially since there are so many nonsense words, but I won't argue that they have none. They were enjoyable for me to read as a child and for me to read to my own kids. I was THE Green Eggs and Ham reader for my kids' school for years :) Sometimes something is valuable simply because it is fun. But... devoting a whole day, changing the atmosphere of that day, to celebrating a single author does seem a bit much to me. My kids' schools didn't do it and they turned out just fine :)
     
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  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I focused more on the "Read Across America Day" aspect. While we did make a biography book about the man, it was mostly a day about our favorite books, convincing others to read them, talking about them, etc.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A daycare provider I once knew actively despised Dr Seuss on the grounds that his books are subversive. She was right. I think that's why they continue to be appropriate and worth celebrating.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's a repeated offense unfortunately. :p

    My principal supported my school's Read Across America activities including a Wacky Wednesday spirit day yesterday where we dressed crazy, mismatched clothing, crazy hair and socks.
     
  16. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I use The Butter Battle Book to teach the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction in my high school classes! Allegories of current events are absolutely educational!
     
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  17. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    wow! intersting

    I was just reading this book the other day and thinking how the desciption of butter side up and down reminds me of another book. I think it was in Guilliver's travels somewhere where there was a disagreeement between 2 sides, either to break the eggs from one side or from another
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've recommended this book to three different teachers at my school for the exact same purpose. They all loved my suggestion and used the book with their classes.
     
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  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Yes, that's Gulliver's Travels, all right, and that was Jonathan Swift lampooning the frequency with which people arguing over even trivial points of religious dogma tend to get, um, dogged. Swift was a clergyman of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) in Dublin, which is largely Roman Catholic, so he knew whereof he wrote.
     
  20. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I didn't like Dr. Seuss books in childhood, but when I was teaching reading, I bought many of the books for my library. I had a nonreader in second grade who got hooked on them and helped him get on track.
     
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  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    And if that doesn't give value to a book, what does?
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm planning on using The Sneeches with my 9th graders to talk about prejudice to soften the blow of To Kill a Mockingbird. Seuss was a universal writer who found it challenging to use smaller words to get his point across.
     
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  23. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    The Butter Battle Book, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, The Lorax....How anyone can not see wonderful literature or great lessons with these is beyond me. I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss and the lessons his books can teach us as well as entertain us.
     
  24. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I don't. During WW11 he was a political cartoonist. He helped create fear among the people of the west coast with his cartoons implying that the Japanese Americans were spies and were helping to plan an attack.
     
  25. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    I use The Lorax when teaching ecology, how people change the environment, and community service.

    Luckily I have a principal who wants the kids to learn, but is very open to however we can make that happen, and he is not afraid to allow for some fun time in our week.
     
  26. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    You know, I think I found a book that is another great example of why would anyone have such an opinion of Dr. Seuss
    It's called "Did I ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?"

    On the surface, it appears to be just one of those Dr. Seuss silly children's book. He is often goofing around with words, repetitions, rhymes. I read it to my (10 y.o.) daughter, her expression was "Why does mommy read me this silly children's book!"

    But that's on the surface. If you think, most of the things he's describing have deeper meaning . But again, you need to read "between the lines". And you definitely need to be older teen or adult to appreciate some of its humor. I wasn't able to explain many of the things to my daughter, she's too young for it.
     
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