A Newcastle area Christian school has banned wizards, witches and warlocks from its annual Book Week parade. The Harry Potter series of fantasy novels have also been banned from the school’s library.
Many schools celebrate Book Week by asking their students to dress up as their favourite book character. The principal of the school in question has told parents not to send their children as wizards, witches or warlocks, as it as “inconsistent with school values” or “not in line with its Christian ethos”
While Harry Potter characters were “out” at the school, it appears that Anakin Skywalker, The Mad Hatter, Peter Pan and other similar characters are ‘”in”. Using this analogy, it makes one wonder whether Darth Vader is “in” or “out?” What about Shrek, Puss In Boots or Donkey? What about characters from “Lord Of The Rings?” What about the Klingons or other alien characters from the “Star Trek” series? Santa Claus? Where does one stop?
The principal states that parents have the right to make decisions on whether their children are allowed to read such material – but don’t expect to do it at school it seems. It appears to this author that this may indeed be covert censorship, where the view of the “one” is seeking to influence the view of the “many”.
The principal states “we do not stock books from the Harry Potter series or other titles, which are subject to polarising public discussion”. I suggest the Bible is also a volume that has polarised public discussion over the millennia, but I would be sure there is a copy (or more) of that Text in the school’s library.
Children realise at a very early age what is reality and what is not. They accept anthropomorphism readily, knowing full well that animals, plants and such can’t actually speak, walk on their back legs or display other human attributes! They know that humans cannot fly but readily accept the characters of Superman and Spiderman! Then what stance does one take about the the “Transformers?”
The principal further states that the Harry Potter series topped the American Library Association’s 10 Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century. While this may be so, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is also there in 5th place! I suspect that volume may also be found in the school’s library too! However, J. K. Rowling herself has not been on the Challenged Author’s list since 2003.
The ALA goes on to define a challenge as:
“An attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others”.
This I suspect is my biggest objection to school’s stance on this issue; the view of covert censorship and the restriction of access to this material to others. I find it all just a little bizarre!
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