N-word in the Classroom
So how do you, folks, feel about To Kill a Mockingbird being pulled off high school curricula?
In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to teach any book that contains the n-word in any context or to make any point whatsoever in an 8-grade classroom. I’m not seeing any benefits that would outweigh the discomfort. It’s not even a world literary masterpiece that every cultured person needs to know by the age of 15 or else. It’s an ok book for kids that can be a lot of fun to read but that’s hardly indispensable or exceptionally urgent.
I remember a class in Ukrainian literature back when I was 14-15. We were reading a novella by a great Ukrainian writer. The problem was that one of the characters used a word that is perfectly innocent in Ukrainian but obscene in Russian. It’s been many years, I’m a literary critic, but all I remember about that author and his novella is the obscenity because that’s how the teenage mind works.
If I were a teacher and I had a choice, I wouldn’t teach this novel in high school. I wouldn’t teach it in college either but that’s strictly because I personally find it boring and lacking in artistic merit.