Customer Reviews for

Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    The truth as only an educator could say it

    I, too, was watching the Daily Show on Comedy Central in May and realized that I had to have this book. Every educator and parent needs to read and recommend this book. Diane Ravitch is correct when she says that good literature should challenge and even upset the reader. Too many books have fallen to political correctness and religious extremism. As the American Library Association says: 'Fight censorship. Read!'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2003

    The author was on Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show'

    After hearing to the author on Comedy Central's 'Daily Show' on May 14th, 2003, both my wife and I have decided to buy this book and read. Also, it made us very concerned that if it continues this way, how would our text books look in about 5 years from now, when our kids will be reading them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2003

    Reader's Digest Reveiw Led Me to The Language Police

    While waiting in my doctor's office I read a review of The Language Police. I went directly the bookstore and bought the book. I am completing my Ed.D. and I am taking a course this term covering teacher education. There could not have been timing for me to find Ravitch. Only a week ago a reading for the course discussed teachers having specific degrees in a subject area (such as math) and the conclusion of the researcher was that methods courses were more important than content courses for teachers in relation to predicting student learning. Many of us who hold degrees in specific subject areas doubted the research. From the research of Ravitch, it seems that a history major for teaching history would significantly change the education (if not the learning) for students. If for no other reason than, as she noted, that the teacher can explain where the text didn't tell the whole story and nothing but the whole story. Likewise, in relation to literature. I served on a curriculum committee for textbook adoption and focused on English textbooks. I read many section of different grade-level texts for literature. I didn't follow-up as Ravitch did, it didn't occur to me to do that. I think she is right about the teacher's knowledge of the subject matter. I think an English major, especial one who majored in literature would have picked up on the variation in the literature to the original writing immediately. My undergrad degrees are linguistics and human communication; not literature. I also agree completely with Ravitch on the idea that the language police are doing far more harm than good. The students are living in the real world, it's the censors who are living in some foreign land (Neverneverland or Lalaland). In the spring of 2000, I heard in class that the United States does not have a culture or a cultural idntity. I was dumbfounded that a professor could stand in front of a classroom of 20 students who were taking a course in social justice, equity, etc. and not have even one student have even a look of questioning much less being stunned. The text book was written with a bias so anti-America that I couldn't read it. I heard that at least one other student from a different class had complained about the book when I presented my case against the book. My best guess, 2 in 40 even noticed anything unusual about the message in the book. Ravitch also hit another of my concerns with the research on what is being read in terms of literature. Among the books listed to read for this course was one by Cisneros (I remember that name because I read her little book) and there was not one author on the list that I had heard of before. The point was that the instructor, not a professor as if that would have made a difference, wanted us to read writers with less known points of view and different perspectives. Cisneros book didn't offer a new view; it offered the same picture of life that has been recorded in literature since at least the Biblical records. That it happened to Spanish speaking people in America (or, that is the United State of America) did not make it remarkable to me. I plan to read everything Ravitch has written. Her perspective as a professional is more credable than some of the ones being put forth in my courses of study.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2003

    Needed to be Written!

    It's about time that someone spoke out against the evil of censorship. No matter what side it comes from, the extreme religious right or the extreme secular left, it is an anti-educational thing and can even be a dangerous thing. History is not politically correct, and those truths we deem ugly are as important as those we deem appropriate. Children, most of all, must not be sheltered from the truth, and it is shameful that 'sensitivity committees' and other censorship boards have invaded our schools. This book exposes their efforts for what they are and promotes a common sense approach to education. Many great works have been hurt through censorship. Take the Book 'The Wisdom of Shepherds' for instance. Those on the left found it too religious. Those on the right found it too disturbing. In all, it was probably one of the most important books of our time, but you seldom heard about it except on the net, and it did gain a small but loyal underground following. Thankfully, those of us who love free speech have the net. It is the world's great townhall meeting and can help overcome censorship.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2003

    Language Police

    As a mother of four, I recommend that every concerned parent should have this book in their library! What is happening in education today is a recipe for disaster and any one who wants their children to gain a sense of history and appreciation of their culture, needs this book as a reference tool to understand their personal role in the eduction of their child. Muting and distorting truth through political correctness in our educational system must be stopped!!! This is a VERY IMPORTANT BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2003

    A BLOW FOR COMMON SENSE AND FREEDOM

    THE LANGUAGE POLICE by Diane Ravitch is a wonderful book , worthy of the exposés of Ida Tarbell or the essays of Mencken or Orwell. Gary Rosen has said 'Ms. Ravitch, the country's soberest, most history-minded education expert--and, in this case, a whistle-blower extraordinaire--' . With the LANGUAGE POLICE, Diane Ravitch may have struck a powerful blow for education, common sense and freedom. It doesn¿t matter apparently if the children are interested in the books or that the illustrations complement the text as long as they meet the censors¿ official guideline. Who are the censors? The publishers themselves who are browbeaten by cliques of self-appointed representatives of different special interests. Well, Sieg Heil, let¿s do the goose step together! Some of the dreadful, authorless conglomerated 'books' almost qualify as cruel and unusual punishment both for the teacher and the student. By comparison the Internet, MTV, R& B music, Fox News and American Idol are excitement, honesty and literary excellence personified! Here¿s just a few of these silly guidelines which would be a straitjacket heavier than the Iron Curtain for any teacher, writer or illustrator: 'Boys playing ball, girls watching, must be replaced by coed teams, boys watching¿' 'Mother bringing sandwiches to father as he fixes the roof must be replaced by mother fixing the roof.' No wonder Johnny and Jane can¿t and won¿t read. It¿s almost humiliating and all so phoney. Next they¿ll say all Marine Platoon Leaders must be female or at the very least sensitive, peace-loving clones of Jacques Chirac. They can then invite Bin Laden to tea so we can all get along. Ravitch following Jacques Barzun in his excellent book FROM DAWN TO DECADENCE defends the usage of man as in a 'a man for all seasons' (Bolt) or as in 'and crown thy good with brotherhood' (Katherine Lee Bates). Wouldn¿t that make Saddam Hussein (or his ghost) happy to know we can¿t any longer sing the full version of the traditional song 'American the Beautiful?.' Ravitch says 'We should be mature enough to live with diversity of language usage.' Absolutely! Humankind, a recently invented politically correct word, is a silly, awkward, ugly word and a useless word not found in 99% of all books! Inuit not Eskimo, Native American not Indian, not African slave or Black slave but 'enslaved African'. But this idea of musical chairs with nomenclature ¿as Ravitch points out is idiotic; Orwell wrote a great essay on this topic (NOTES on NATIONALISM). One of my favorite chapters was CENSORSHIP FROM THE RIGHT. Ravitch worked very hard to get balance about censorship from both sides. I can imagine Ms. Ravitch as a pert teenager ignoring the mandatory MacArthur speech about 'old soldiers never die' over the loudspeakers and reading her own books in protest. I like the lists of censored books and the CENSORHSIP on the LEFT chapter particularly the quote on Mark Twain. Ravitch never wrote anything truer: '...Teachers and students alike must learn to grapple with this novel WHICH THEY CANNOT DO UNLESS THEY READ IT.' Dictionaries are censored too. It bothers me that my new school dictionaries or readers leave out words like mulatto, sambo, oriental, niggardly, old maid or even massacre. Granted, niggardly ,a word of Icelandic origin that has no connection with the forbidden 'N-word' is a word that is unusable today just as 'gay romance' is unusable in its old heterosexual sense. Massacre, however is a different word from battle. It is a French word that implies a general killing that no prisoners were taken. There was a reason this word came into being and that reason is history. Ask the survivors of the Malmedy Massacre (Ardennes, 1944) if they would like to pardon the SS retroactively and say the murder of unarmed prisoners virtually to the last man was a 'battle'. But as Ravitch points out this sort of censorship is stupid because the street

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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