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To find this type of censorship by school bizarre.

(144 Posts)
Exasperatedcroc Sat 11-Mar-17 07:16:17

D'S (7) came home with a Michael Morpurgo reading book "The castle in the field". When we were reading it I noticed in three places stickers have been placed over words /phrases and alternative words written on top. A little bit of investigation show that the censored words aren't swear words but the phrases "Thank God" and "we swore on our mother's grave". Now I am presuming that this has been done by the school rather than some crazy parent. What would your reaction to this be? I have put note in his reading diary asking the school if they carried out the censoring and asking them to explain the reasons for it. What I really want to do though is to into the school and rant and rave about the evils of censorship and ask them if they have gone mad. I won't do that but I don't think I can let it lie.

I have namechanged as this could out me. The school is in Northern Ireland but is a state school. What would you do if this was your primary school?

Collaborate Sat 11-Mar-17 07:21:16

I would do the same as you. It's absolutely bonkers.

treaclesoda Sat 11-Mar-17 07:21:42

I'm in N Ireland too and I could almost have guessed before you said so that you'd be here too (although our school aren't as extreme as that).

I suppose it depends on other things. If I was happy with everything else at the school I'd probably shrug my shoulders a bit and laugh. But if it's the last in a long line of things then I'd maybe want to raise it with them.

I was reading up on some stuff recently and from what I recall, all state schools here are actually broadly Christian. I think they all have member of the clergy on the Board of Governors for example. I know there are two ministers on our Board of Governors and they do hold quite a lot of influence over what goes on in the school.

Saucery Sat 11-Mar-17 07:25:51

I would do the same as you and ask them to justify it. They have the choice not to use reading material if it contravenes their ethos or to limit that material to upper KS2 classes, but slapping a sticker on phrases like that is just silly.
If it's on faith grounds then children are taught as part of their faith journey that taking God's name in vain is a sin (and it may be used as part of their first Confession prep) but the fact that it happens isn't just ignored- it's discussed and explained.

treaclesoda Sat 11-Mar-17 07:29:27

I wonder do they read the book aloud in class? Is it to enable them to read aloud without saying the 'thank God' bit, since that would be a no no.

However, if they're not happy with the language in the book, they should be finding a book that they are happy with.

Exasperatedcroc Sat 11-Mar-17 07:32:08

Treaclesoda, there are a few other things that I am uncomfortable with regarding the school but as you say all NI state schools have some degree of religious oversight and I'm not sure a school existed here that I would be 100% comfortable with. There is a parent teacher meeting in a fortnight so I might just have to have a chat with the teacher, who already thinks I am one of those parents😊 I spent my childhood reading and learnt so much about other cultures and places through doing so. This type of censorship really gets on my nerves.

teaandakitkat Sat 11-Mar-17 07:34:16

I would think it was ridiculous, I would point i out to my kids and tell them what words are underneath, but I wouldn't take it up with the school. I imagine it would take a lot of effort to make them change their minds and I don't think I could be bothered with it. Must take the staff ages to go through all the books and put little stickers over every word. They clearly have too much time on their hands.

hesterton Sat 11-Mar-17 07:39:06

How do you know that it wasn't the parent of a child who borrowed the book?

Iris65 Sat 11-Mar-17 07:45:07

I feel the same way as you OP. Very strange!

breakneckspeed Sat 11-Mar-17 07:47:37

This is very odd. If they were actual swearwords then I could understand the censorship. I would bring it up with the school too OP.

treaclesoda Sat 11-Mar-17 07:49:14

Thank God would definitely be considered swearing where I'm from.

northcoastmum Sat 11-Mar-17 07:50:21

I also could have guessed that it was here in NI, but actually I've more often heard of parents getting schools to simply stop teaching books (Harry Potter, Of Mice and Men and Abomination are examples I have direct knowledge of).

However I wouldn't assume it was the school, as I think a teacher is unlikely to choose a book they feel they have to censor.

My faith is important to me and I don't swear in my own everyday life, but when it comes to reading books with either 'swear words' or using God or Jesus as a swear word I do often read them out loud, having first made clear to the class that they're not my words, but have been included for literary reasons, which we may then discuss. This approach satisfies my 'conscience' as I do genuinely feel uncomfortable at times and makes it clear I'm not condoning the use of 'bad language' in school (which would be problematic given that pupils can be given detention for swearing in class).

It also has an educational benefit - by highlighting the fact that the words have been deliberately included by the author, the pupils begin to analyse and evaluate the effects of the writer's use of language - a key skill in studying English.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Sat 11-Mar-17 07:51:27

If I wrote a book and got it published, I would be very pissed off with someone changing what I wrote.If the book needs editing, that's down to me and my publisher.

taybert Sat 11-Mar-17 07:54:16

I have never heard "Thank God" referred to as swearing or unsuitable or blasphemous and I have a conservative catholic background. Odd.

treaclesoda Sat 11-Mar-17 07:55:22

North what is it about Of Mice and Men that people object to? It's so long since I read it that I can't remember the details. There is a wee bit of sex isn't there, or hinted at? Or is it the idea of mercy killing?

Topuptheglass Sat 11-Mar-17 07:57:30

DS (12) is at an integrated school in NI & they've just finished Private Peaceful.

I haven't read it blush but he likes to discuss his work & was very excited one say that "Miss swore"..... turned out shews reading paragraphs from their book, not insulting them all grin

I agree that books shouldn't be censored. If they don't agree with the wording they should choose something else.

northcoastmum Sat 11-Mar-17 07:58:08

In the examples I know of, it's the language (fairly frequent, but in my opinion relatively mild) which is spread throughout the book - interestingly I've never heard of anyone here complaining about the N-word in it though. Curley's wife flaunting herself is the other issue.

Meluzyna Sat 11-Mar-17 07:58:45

I would be taking the stickers off - I have a very low tolerance for people "vandalising" books by writing in them, dog-earing pages etc. And I would be have a frank discussion with my child about censorship - with examples of totalitarian regimes and thought police.
As the French say, this is "n'importe quoi!" and has no place in a school in a democratic country in the 21st century.

Annesmyth123 Sat 11-Mar-17 07:59:48

Thank God is definitely considered swearing where I am (also Northern Ireland)

Exasperatedcroc Sat 11-Mar-17 07:59:52

According to my own categorisation I don't swear at all and I would certainly come down quite hard on one of my kids if I heard them swearing. I would have no trouble with them reading swear words aloud from a book though as I except that other people do use them and that literature therefore needs to reflect that.

To those that mentioned that it might not have been the school, you are right I haven't fully established that. Previous experiences however would suggest that it is likely that it was the school.

Annesmyth123 Sat 11-Mar-17 08:01:09

That's a teacher's writing so it's either a parent who is a teacher or it was done by a teacher. It's the way a teacher writes when they are forming letters at primary school.

amispartacus Sat 11-Mar-17 08:02:23

Can't you 'Thank God for something' such as 'thank God for this meal'.

Or is it the context?

treaclesoda Sat 11-Mar-17 08:05:11

You could thank God for a meal in the context of actual prayer.

But you couldn't say 'We narrowly missed having an accident, but we were ok, thank God'. Because that's blasphemy.

taybert Sat 11-Mar-17 08:08:10

I'm really surprised (though I'm not saying it isn't true Annesmyth). It just shows it's not a case of that being found generally offensive by most Christians but that it's regional too.

Annesmyth123 Sat 11-Mar-17 08:08:37

You can say "thank you God for this food we are about to eat" as part of grace, or "Thanks be to God for this wonderful sunshine" but you can't say "Thank God that car nearly missed us" because that would be swearing.

And you definitely can't say "what the fuck are you playing at you wanker" when someone pulls out in front of you blush

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