Tuesday October 20, 2020

We have a lot to learn about using books with racist words

Comment: It should be possible to teach Harper Lee's and John Steinbeck's novels today in ways that would illuminate Irish classrooms on the subject of racism, but black students should lead the conversation on how this can be done

20th September, 2020
Brock Peters as Tom Robinson and Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch To Kill a Mockingbird: the story deals with racism from a white perspective. Picture: Getty

Paige Reynolds was early in her career at a liberal arts college in America, 25 years ago, when she found herself teaching Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book, long regarded as one of the greatest American novels, contains liberal use of the N-word.

She set a passage containing the word to be read aloud in class. It was important that it be heard, she thought: only then could her class interrogate it fully. She...

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