Monday, May 9, 2016

Some famous British educators worry about the effect of fantasy

Graeme Whiting of Acorn School disapproves of modern fantasy novels - 'modern' extending back to Tolkein. I'm with him as far as Game of Thrones is concerned; as a North American, I am not so upset by the violence but by the sex.
"Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett, to mention only a few of the modern world's 'must-haves', contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult behaviour in children; yet they can be bought without a special licence, and can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children, many of whom may be added to the current statistics of mentally ill young children.
Harry Potter? Terry Pratchett?
He told parents to steer clear of the "mystical and frightening texts" and they should instead read classics such as those by Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Shakespeare.
Shakespeare as a role model for children's lit?  This is like the parents in the US protesting various books for their sex and violence asking for wholesome books like the Bible.

I note the Telegraph quotes from Whiting's blog and links to some of the various books he names but never to the blog post in question. Let me correct that error here.

One of Whiting's teachers is quoted, "Nikki Ellis, parent and former teacher at the school, agreed with his views - even though she had only read one Harry Potter book."

Richard Dawkins has voiced similar statements, as quoted in another Telegraph article.  I wonder about the quality of a newspaper that has an article from 2008 that hasn't made even the simple correction that appears obvious (my bolding):
The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in "anti-scientific" fairytales.

Prof Hawkins said: "The book I write next year will be a children's book on how to think about the world, science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking.

"I haven't read Harry Potter, I have read Pullman who is the other leading children's author that one might mention and I love his books. I don't know what to think about magic and fairy tales."
I can find no original source for this source, but it was widely shared in 2008.

I loved Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy and loved it.  My son won't be reading them for a few years, but he's ready for HP now.

Educators these days.

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