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Jeana Ruffner

Mrs Cramer

College Comp Pd 7

23 January 2017

Censorship is Disconnecting Students

You are a senior in high school. You are sitting in your College Government class and

you are handed an assignment. You are assigned to learn about the National Rifle Association.

When you go to Google, because that's what your brain is trained to do, you find that multiple

websites that you try to click on are blocked by the school. Without knowing how to illegally

access the site, you are now unable to do the assignment that was just given to you. Is this

censorship okay? Does this censorship have a purpose? The purpose of school is to teach us

things that we do not already know. It is common for the average person to have little knowledge

about the NRA. Students would benefit from being able to learn the basics of what the

organization stands for, but the school's censorship is interfering. Censorship from the school

district in this particular case prohibits me from learning. Although my opinion is that schools

should not censor educational material, I am in no way saying that schools do not have the right

to limit a student's access to information that will cause immediate danger to students and/or

staff. Overall, though, schools should not censor anything that can be appropriately educational

to a student, whether through an online source or from a book.

Censorship, for the most part, prohibits students from learning about real life situations.

Books, articles, and websites can all blocked by schools if they even remotely discuss anything

controversial. Controversial topics may include drugs, death, guns, sex, and profane language.
Parents, teachers, and other faculty may feel that it is important to censor such topics in the

hopes of protecting students from harsh material. All of these things, though, occur in real life,

and it is important to be knowledgeable about them. Mr Spencer, a 6th grade teacher, stated that

his students, for seven years, considered literature to be safe and boring (73). Once students learn

that literature is more than old, made-up stories, they open a door to information that they never

knew even existed. It is important for students to be able to read about things that they can relate

to. Books about high schoolers are likely to include parts curse words and talk about sex, two

things that high schoolers hear about all the time. If such literacy is banned due to its

controversial topics, students will be missing out on important, and maybe life-altering,

information. Students should feel able to openly read and learn about any topic that interests or

inspires them. Students should not be denied the access to learn about real life situations.

Next, it is important to realize that censorship is almost pointless, due to the fact that

students may still have the ability to learn about censored material from other sources. Through

the use of books, websites, and social media, students are able to learn about almost anything

that they wish. Even if some topics are considered harsh or vulgar, they still should not be

censored. Things such as sex, drugs, guns, death, and curse words are all a part of life. If these

topics do not come up at school, they are more than likely to arise in other situations. Each of

these things is a fact of life and it is unnecessary for the schools to censor what we can learn

about each topic. If a student is expected to research a drug for their health class, it should be

obvious that the student will have access during school hours to such material. It would be

pointless for schools to teach topics such as Health if a majority of the things we learn about is

going to be censored by our schools. As stated by Petress, "When schools censor ideas, students

become increasingly interested in such subjects and typically discover some clandestine means to
gain access to these taboo ideas" (248). This illustrates the point that once students are curious

about something, they will go to almost any means to understand it. It would make sense for

teachers, parents, and other faculty staff to discuss these controversial topics openly, rather than

allow the student to access the information in a way that could be dangerous, such as

experimenting with drugs. Petress stated that "When teachers, librarians, and parents are

involved with what is encountered by children, there is less chance that harm from such material

will visit that individual" (248). This proves the point that is it better for authoritative figures to

teach the material firsthand so that they know that the students are safe while learning it.

Another point that needs addressed is the use of phones to access social media apps. In a

way, social media is being censored by the school district. Considering both sides of the

argument, I believe schools should not have the responsibility of worrying about what each

student chooses to do on his/her own private device. I understand that social media can be a

distraction to learning, but I feel that if a student would rather be on his phone, and he misses out

on material taught in class, that it should be his problem to deal with. If a student chooses to be

on his phone during class time, it is his responsibility to make time to do the work for that class

at another time, The school should not be in charge of the student and how he chooses to utilize

his time. It is my belief that every person in this world is free to make any choice he/she wants to

make, but no one in this world is free from the consequences of those choices. Because of this, it

should not be the school's or teacher's responsibility to make sure the student succeeds.

In conclusion, censorship is limiting what students actually need to learn about. Both

literary censorship and online censorship disconnect students with information that can be

important to know. Teachers, parents, librarians, and other authoritative figures should be

comfortable with discussing topics that may be considered harsh. Things that occur in the real
world should be able to be openly discussed in school. Schools should not be obligated to censor

the content that students are able to search at school, unless the content is inappropriate. The only

time a school should be able to censor material is when the material is likely to cause immediate

harm to students and staff. Censorship in our school is interfering with every student's right to

useful and important information.


Works Cited

Jacobson, Linda. "Unnatural Selection. (Cover Story)." School Library Journal 62.10 (2016): 20-

24. Teacher Reference Center. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.

Petress, Ken. "The Role of Censorship in School." Journal of Instructional Psychology 32.3

(2005): 248-252. Teacher Reference Center. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.

Spencer, John T. "Don't bribe my kids to read." Kappan 94.3 (2012): 72-73