Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's finally happened

For the first time in my teaching career, a parent has called and demanded that her daughter be given another book to read.

Yesterday, Mrs. I-think-The-House-of-the-Scorpion-is-junk called, and told me just that. That the book was "junk" and worthless. I asked her if she could be more specific, since I wasn't sure just what was giving such offense.

She said she found the book full of verbal and physical abuse and that it was offensive to her. Said her 13-year-old should not be exposed to such, what did she call it? Oh yeah, "trash."

Now, I'm not sure how to deal with this. Of course I was accommodating and told her I'd give her daughter a new book. Which book that is, I haven't yet decided. This will throw quite a wrench into class plans for me; I've been planning to do a lot of Socratic seminars around this book, and use it as the basis for a persuasive essay in a few weeks.

I won't even get into the value of this book. I'm not a parent, and what this mother says goes.

For now though, I'm really stymied. How do I assign a different book, one that is appropriate, and one for which I don't have to make a whole other set of lesson plans?

Did I tell you, this is the first year I'm teaching The House of the Scorpion? So of course, everything is already new for me.

Please folks, fellow teachers, if you have any suggestions, or this has happened to you, please tell me about it. Better yet, any and all advice appreciated!


OKP said...

Try to pick a book that is thematically similar to Scorpion. You may be able to have a similar prompt. Make sure that the parent knows that for this unit, her child will have to do a lot of independent work, though you will give your support where necessary. I've done it where the student has to do an individual project, a paper, and a presentation to the class (to demostrate the speaking skills in Soc. Disc.). Keep us updated -- I know I'd like to read what happens next.

Polski3 said...

My advice, keeping in mind that I am not a LA teacher, would be to consider what you'd do if this child had been in some sort of accident and had to be homeschooled. What would you assign her? Yes, it is more work for you, but then again, such is our teaching job.

There are some sources of book/literature units that might be of help.....I recall seeing some on the San Diego County Office of Education's website under the English or Lang. Arts catagory. OR, perhaps you could pull a unit from a good piece of literature that you've taught before?

Good Luck and for what it is worth, it sounds like you handled the parent well.

happychyck said...

At times I've had units for other books that I've used, and I just give it to the student as a packet. Other times I've given them a book project to do for a book. The Website Outta Ray's Head has some great independent novel studies, and over the years I've formulated my own. At his site http://www.rayser.ca/, the "Another Independent Novel Study--Intermediate" much like mine. Students have to do personal responses to the book, analyze structures of the book, and then do some more creative assignments related to the book.

When this has happened to me, yes I have been incredibly frustrated that I have to think of an alternative assignment. But I'm so irritated that I don't feel bad for just giving a generic assignment like an indepedent study where the student has to figure out his/her own meaning.

The parent and student need to know that the student will not be participating in many classroom activities. I think the burden should be on the parent for dealing with the emotional effects of this.

As for a replacement book...I don't know. Maybe the parent has some other book that he/she deems more important since he/she seems to have such knowledge in quality reading.

So sad. I'd love to teach Scorpion!!