Is this offensive?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by loves2teach, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Jul 25, 2010

    Hey =)

    Do you think it would be offensive to read a book that involves autism (Rules by Cynthia Lord) to a class with a student who is autistic?

    Just wanted to see what you all thought. Thanks!
     
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jul 25, 2010

    If you are reading the book about autism only because you have a student with autism, then it's not appropriate.

    If you would have read the book anyway or read books with characters who have a variety of conditions, then I'd say it was fine.
     
  4. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Well, I am working on my book list for the next few weeks. I have had that on my "would like to read to my class" list since I read it myself. I just wanted to see if anyone would think it was offensive.
     
  5. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Maybe you could run it past your department chair or principal?
     
  6. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    What's your proposed educational purpose in reading this particular book? If you intend to denigrate the student with autism, then I can agree it would be inappropriate. However, depending on the story revealed, if your intent is to educate your other students with a vicarious experience of what autism is like, then I can not agree that it would be inappropriate. Quite the opposite. I think there is too little knowledge about what autism is in the general public. That to me is very saddening.

    Essentially, you are asking if an egg is rotten when we can neither see nor smell the egg. What's the book about? How does it relate to the student with autism? How does it relate to your other students? How can it relate to your curriculum?

    Before I could make an assessment of appropriateness, I'd need a lot more information in order to make the call.
     
  7. MissJill

    MissJill Cohort

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    Rules is a required reading assignment for my kids over the summer. I wouldn't see why it would be offensive.
     
  8. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I am reading the book this coming year. When I read an excerpt last year, we had a discussion about autism for a few minutes, and students were able to talk about how sometimes people with it are very misunderstood and how there are a lot of fair people out there as well once they understand what they are encountering.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 25, 2010

    After checking with your administration, check with the parents of the child in question.
     
  10. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    That is what I see in my mind as I think about it. The child in my room is often very misunderstood, and I had hoped that this book could maybe shed some light of the topic. I read it early last year after reading about it on Amazon. Here is a blurb about it:

    Twelve-year-old Catherine has conflicting feelings about her younger brother, David, who is autistic. While she loves him, she is also embarrassed by his behavior and feels neglected by their parents. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, Catherine creates rules for him (It's okay to hug Mom but not the clerk at the video store). Each chapter title is also a rule, and lots more are interspersed throughout the book. When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes that the girl will become a friend, but is anxious about her reaction to David. Then Catherine meets and befriends Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate, she begins to understand that normal is difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, to define. Rules of behavior are less important than acceptance of others. Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. Her love for her brother is as real as are her frustrations with him. Lord has candidly captured the delicate dynamics in a family that revolves around a child's disability. Set in coastal Maine, this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    I am the department head :whistle:, so I guess my administration is the next step. I have a feeling they will tell me do do what I feel is right, which is why I asked here first. After that, I will most likely discuss it with the child's family.
     
  11. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Jul 25, 2010

    Also, the fact that I would want to read it to my class even if this child wasn't in my class makes me feel like it is okay, but again- I just wanted to run it by others =)
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't think it's inappropriate.
     
  13. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    Jul 25, 2010

    :agreed:
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I agree that the parents are a big hurdle in this particular case. We had 3 students with autism on my team this year. I do not believe that most students knew that was the boys' diagnosis but they were generally aware of the condition. In fact, the other students used the term autistic about things that were completely random. So..they need to be educated.
    But...I know that 1 of the 3 students would have spoken up immediately and explained autism to the others. But in the case of 1 other student, his mother would have called and threatened to sue (as she did frequently) because we were calling attention to the disorder (or something).
     
  15. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jul 25, 2010

    Give the parents a copy of the book and see what they think. It sounds perfectly reasonable.
     
  16. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2010

    I think I would check with the parents. Students should know if their classmate has special needs but that information should come in a more formal way--having the parent (or student) explain autism to the class. The book would be a good follow up though.
     
  17. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Just make sure that the parents understand that this book is a regular part of the curriculum, and it's not something you are adding because of their son. I think it sets a bad precedent to allow parents who *may* be offended to preview our curriculum...
     
  18. Starista

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    Jul 26, 2010

    Thank you for sharing this book and summarizing it for me.

    I plan to order it today from amazon. Sounds like a good read.

    Thank you!
     
  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jul 26, 2010

    Hmm, really? I kind of feel all parents should be entitled to preview all curriculum. Otherwise, there's a potential for blindsiding parents with all sorts of things.

    I'd agree there may be a danger with allowing too much ability to opt out of curriculum. Racist parents shouldn't be allowed to simply opt out of any teachings on racial integration or civil rights, for example. But it could be a good idea for the teacher to be aware of those sorts of views beforehand. After all, an upset parent can turn around and blindside the teacher. Even if the teacher is completely in the right, an angry parent going to the principal is never pleasant (and such parents also may not play fair. They'll almost surely mischaracterize events, and may even outright lie).

    Maybe by preview you include the ability to opt out, in which case I agree.

    And yes, you should make sure the parents are aware that the inclusion of this isn't because of their son. If you say, "regular part of the curriculum" it might imply to them that it's been taught before, so if they then talk to other parents and find out it hasn't they might think they were lied to.
     
  20. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I agree. I have made alterations when I was asked in an appropriate way, but one year I had a student who's parent objected to every single unit I did. I gave alternate assignments for the first two, but I can't write entire separate unit plans for one student, so I talked to my supervisor. She said the same thing I was thinking - I was teaching state-approved curriculum and standards. If the parent didn't like it, he or she would have to home school or send their child to a private school where they might have more say. Public education curriculum is not for individual parents to decide.

    Having said that, in this particular situation, you may wish to make the parent aware that you will be reading the book. That's not the same as asking though.
     
  21. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    3Sons, I know what you're saying. It's just all about finding that balance. My understanding was that this book *is* a part of the curriculum already, so it wouldn't be a lie.

    I like how Silverspoon put it... it's about making the parent "aware" vs. asking "permission".
     
  22. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I didn't have the impression from the OP that this book is a 'regular part of the curriculum'.

    I'm with 3Sons on the parent awareness of curriculum idea. At back to school night, we share grade level copies of the core content curriculum standards so the parents know what topics will be taught. I don't share the names of every book I'll be using but the standards give a nice overview of what their students will be learning.
     
  23. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Jul 26, 2010

    It isn't my curriculum, just a read-aloud I would like to read. I was planning on pairing it with a reading story we have in our book.
     
  24. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I was going to say this too!
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Well, if it's not a part of the curriculum, then I definitely think it would be kind to run it by the parents. Again, though, I wouldn't word it as though you are asking for "permission" from them.
     
  26. funshine2381

    funshine2381 Companion

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    As a parent of an autistic child, this would not offend me. Too many times, autistic children are made fun of and are often a target. I've used opportunities in class to educate my students about autism and showed the movie "Adam" during the last week of school. We also read a few articles on autism from magazines (as well as others featuring people who over came obstacles despite a disability). It's extremely important that people are aware. If I had an autistic child in my class, I would not run it by his/her parents.
     

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