Allow teachers to draw on a diversity of authors and texts: Readers

Opinion: Letters to the Vancouver Sun.

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Re: Surrey schools remove To Kill a Mockingbird and other books from recommended reading curriculum.

There is no logical reason to remove Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird from the Surrey School District’s list of recommended books. While novels like Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys are excellent, why can’t classic and contemporary books coexist in the same curriculum?

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Nickel Boys and To Kill a Mockingbird address racial discrimination and injustice, and include graphic language and adult themes. In a senior English class, students could do a comparative study of the two books, examining the historical/social context in which both were written. They would note the absence of a white savior in Whitehead’s novel, and this could lead to significant discussion.

Let us not deny classroom teachers the opportunity to take advantage of a diversity of authors and texts, enriching the learning experience of their students.

Natalie Hryciuk, Surrey

Twenty years ago I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to students who had no idea about its racist history. Before teaching, I explained how hurtful and damaging language like the ‘N’ word is and that this language had no place in any classroom.

I just don’t understand how this book that is clearly anti-racist can be interpreted as harmful.

Patti Milsom, Vancouver

The argument for removing classic novels such as Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and others is that it is about avoiding trauma when reading offensive messages. These standards continue to change, limiting the exposure needed in the expected protected school environments.

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My view on such censorship of potentially difficult topics is that it should not take place, but such reading should be reasonably open in schools for adequate discussion of modern thought in the context of past standards.

The reality of negative life events and future experiences needs to be safely brought to light, discussed fully, and options for dealing with them presented. How else will the challenges of the future be met?

No matter what we try, there will always be difficult topics and experiences, and we must instill in developing students healthy ways to cope with them.

John de Couto, Burnaby

get vaccinated

Issue: One in six Canadian parents are against vaccinating their children: survey.

Re: Complacency drives the return of measles. The only reason cases are rising is because vaccination rates have dropped.

Dr. Christopher Labos noted that too many people are complacent about vaccines against infectious diseases because effective immunization has eliminated the disabled and those suffering from diseases from our immediate experience.

The Canadian Encyclopedia entry on “disasters” notes that: “Before modern immunization and vaccine programs…thousands of deaths were due to outbreaks of smallpox, cholera, typhus, influenza, and other contagious diseases. In 1953, polio affected more than 8,000 Canadians and killed 481. The following year, with the Salk vaccine… the death toll fell to 157. That progress has sometimes been difficult; Mandatory vaccination against smallpox was bitterly opposed in Montreal until an outbreak in 1885 claimed 5,864 lives and made vaccination respectable.”

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My mother contracted polio in the late 1920s and was left lame and progressively impaired for the rest of her life. I was free from polio thanks to vaccination in 1954.

Get vaccinated.

DB Wilson, Port Moody

Re: Toxic drugs killed 198 people in British Columbia in January

While the release of these monthly statistics is no longer surprising, what baffles me is that with more than 14,000 toxic drug deaths in British Columbia in the last eight years since a public health emergency was declared, there has not been a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. against an importer, manufacturer, distributor, trader or supplier of these poisonous substances.

Why not?

Richard Hoover, Delta

The Canucks finally come back to earth

I wondered when the high-flying Canucks would return to Earth. Well, they finally landed last Thursday with a thud. I’ve really enjoyed watching them over the last five months; competitive and entertaining even when they lost. They have been falling for the last two weeks, but last Thursday was a disaster.

There was nothing entertaining about their performance last Thursday unless you like tragic comedy.

Hope springs eternal and I hope they bounce back from this devastating loss and get back on track, but knowing the Canucks I’m skeptical.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver

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