This month, we kick off a new series: Students Say. Each month, we’ll share feedback from random students (elementary, middle, high school, college and graduate level all welcome) across Iowa and Illinois to a question related to current affairs. This month’s pilot effort is based in Grinnell Public High School in central Iowa. There, history teacher and TRM contributor Kent Mick asked his students to talk about censorship. Most respondents chose not to provide their name or photo — or their parents didn’t want them to. Here are some of their comments:
MARCH QUESTION OF THE MONTH
How does censorship of public school books, websites and other material affect you and people your age?
“The censorship of books, websites, and other materials affects us by not allowing us to learn everything we need to go into the world and help make a difference. Also, the censorship of websites doesn’t allow us to do the full research to write good essays and papers to get the best grades possible.” – N.Z., Junior
“Often, by the time videos or websites are unblocked for class, the professor has already moved on. And that’s assuming it even is possible for the materials to get unblocked. I’ve had classmates that had the experience of being flat-out refused when they asked for something to be unblocked, and I’ve often had to just use my personal laptop for school, which is a privilege I know not many can afford.” – Iris Mackenzie, Senior
“When we are young, we want to learn as much as we can, about everything that we can. Questions like “why” and “how” allow us to explore the world, and grow our critical-thinking capabilities. This affects our ability to learn; some of these fundamental questions we ask won’t be answered. This censorship leads to more narrow-mindedness in people; how can you grow and be different when your questions can’t be answered?” – K. J., Sophomore
“As someone who debates, I need to research many things that aren’t necessarily ‘school appropriate,’ and website blocks can be very frustrating. This restriction doesn’t stop me from learning about the topics, but it makes it unnecessarily hard. I sometimes have to purposely misspell words to look things up.” – K. Chang-Roper, Sophomore
“It is hard to know what is okay to talk about and what isn’t. In a lot of instances, teachers will have us look things up for an assignment, but then people get blocked by their school computers, which then doesn’t really open the floor for a lot of conversation. There are also so many debates on books that are in high school libraries because they could offend someone. But we can’t protect everyone from everything that could offend them.” – E.S., Sophomore