If you are in the young adult writing community, you know that the Wall Street Journal published an article on Saturday about young adult literature. The author, Meghan Cox Gurdon, writes her opinion of young adult literature. There were elements of her argument that I agree with and elements that made me shake my head. But mostly it made me remember a time in my life when I was the gatekeeper and was the dreaded object of the C-word: censorship. And so, between the flurry of tweets using the hashtag #YASaves and the article, I suddenly was caught up in the emotional maelstrom of a time I thought could no longer hurt quite as much as it still does.
For ten years I was a teacher. I may have included the modifiers of “high school” or “English” but the foundation always rested firmly on being a teacher. And while I haven’t been a “paid” teacher of that sort since 2004, I will always be a teacher in my heart and will always be involved in the teaching of others whether they are my children or the children and teens I work with in my current job. And while I was a good teacher for most of my students, I was a great teacher for some as well as a terrible teacher for others. My teaching ability didn’t change depending upon the class period or age of students. Instead the variables at work were relational — how well did my students and I connect and how well did my student connect with the subject material. The one variable that remained constant was my care and commitment to my students. I note this “non-fact” because some parents and students thought I was doing the absolute best by their student. And yet there were the folks who really, truly believed I was trying to harm students.
Why? How? Simply by asking students to read books that challenged them.