Prepare to get out those pitchforks. In another case of officials gone made the New York City Education Department has issued a list of 50 words and topics they want banned from classroom tests because they may make students feel unpleasant.
Included on that list are a number of topics that most would probably agree don’t belong in the classroom, but there are a number of other banned words that have raised more than a few eyebrows.
Such as ‘dinosaur’. Yeah, ‘dinosaur’ is banned because apparently officials believe dinosaurs suggest evolution and creationists may not like that. We’re not even kidding here. ‘Birthday’ is also banned because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate them, ‘Halloween’ because it suggest paganism, and ‘Christmas’ because not everyone is a Christian.
Of course the usual suspects have also made it onto the list. We wouldn’t want children to be exposed to ‘rock-and-roll music’, after all as Jerry Lee Lewis once said it is the devils music. Oh, that filthy ‘rap music’ is also out as is ‘dancing’, although the city will make an exception for ‘ballet’.
And there’s no good news for fans of Italian cuisine: the Department of Education also banned references to types of food, such as pepperoni, products they said “persons of some religions or cultures may not indulge in.”
Words that suggest wealth are also excluded because they could make kids jealous, like ‘homes with swimming pools’, and ‘computers in the home’; although computers in a library or school are perfectly acceptable.
That’s something Sy Fliegal from the Center for Educational Innovation has labelled ridiculous in an interview with CBS.
“The Petersons take a vacation for five days in their Mercedes … so what?” he says. “You think our kids are going to be offended because they don’t have a Mercedes? You think our kids are going to say ‘I’m offended; how could they ask me a question about a Mercedes? I don’t have a Mercedes!’”
“It’s all of life!” he continued. “I don’t know how they figure out what not to put on the list. Every aspect of life is on the list.”
But schools chancellor Dennis Walcott defends the Department Of Education arguing this isn’t political correctness gone made and that the department is simply trying to ensure test makers are sensitive to their students beliefs.
“We’re not an outlier in being politically correct,” Walcott says. “This is just making sure that test makers are sensitive in the development of their tests.”
Stanford University Professor Sam Wineburg, who is an expert in the field of education disagrees. “The purpose of education is to create unpleasant experiences in us,” he said. “The Latin meaning if education is ‘to go out.’ Education is not about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.”
He said the goal of education is to prepare kids for life, adding “this is how we dumb down public schools.”