How one classroom tackled Banned Books Week in the heat of reading Fahrenheit 451.
In this day and age of heightened rhetoric, toxic political discourse, and living in constant fear of this or that, the American public wrestles with the idea of "how do we prevent these evils in our society?" Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom: freedom of speech, religion, press etc. But, at what point has freedom go too far?
Every year in late September, the country celebrates Banned Books Week to highlight the great literature and voices of those who have been silenced, both currently and in years past. In Mr. Brian Hansbrough's English classroom, reading the novel Fahrenheit 451 during Banned Books Week struck an interesting accord with our students. For Mr. Hansbrough's class, students were motivated to make Banned Book Posters that highlighted some of the books that are banned or deemed wildly inappropriate for students.
Below are some examples of the creative talents that his students put forward and their passion for the visual arts, but we think it's even more surprising that some of these books are even on the list, especially the ones that are taught in school curriculums across the country.
Some states have state-wide banned book lists and other lists are more community/school specific. It can be hard to believe that in this age of information and free press, books are still banned and highly recommended not to read because of their content, despite the fact that many classics that have shaped our national ethos and moral fabric of how we as Americans run our society are now listed on the banned books list.
As a society developed around the concept of free will, Rene Descartes would be rolling around in his grave if he knew that a modern society has returned to the dark ages in hopes of limiting free thinking and independent ideas (in the name of safety of course). Much like the storyline in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, dangerous consequence arise when a governmental body dictates what is and is not an acceptable idea for the people to consume, in print form or out loud. The only true way a modern society can continue to adapt and learn is to actually adapt and learn. Even though we have replaced a paperback book with a computer screen, the only true way to make real progress is to consume and contemplate. That ability should be the cornerstone of any democracy and citizens should have the innate ability to "think" and "therefore be."