Doctor’s Orders: Have Your Children Read These Banned Books

Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University, Perri Klass, writes a column called “The Checkup” for The New York Times. Usually she writes about medical things like coughs and measles and kids who are night owls. But this week she wrote about “The Banned Books Your Child Should Read“!

While there are parents out there trying to save children from books with accurate descriptions of body parts, books with kids who behave like kids, or stories about LGBTQ families or magical places like Hogwarts, Klass points out,

convention bookmark“In fact, banned books lists [e.g.  the ALA list of frequently challenged children’s books the and University of Illinois list] can be a great resource for parents looking for books that teach kids about the world and themselves.

“When your children read books that have been challenged or banned, you have a double opportunity as a parent; you can discuss the books themselves, and the information they provide, and you can also talk about why people might find them troubling…

“As a parent, I was dazzled when my daughter’s summer reading assignment was to choose a book ‘out of your comfort zone,’ however the student chose to define it. Because, that is, of course, what literature does, and part of the glorious freedom and human right of literacy is the opportunity to journey with words well beyond your comfort zone.”

Teaching and Learning in Transitional Spaces

This post is written by member Holly Hassel, editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College. 

hollyhasselBeginning with the September, 2016 issue, I stepped into the role of editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College. I had been a long-time reader of the journal, having taught at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, a two-year transfer campus in central Wisconsin, since 2002. I had previously taught at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, but experience can only provide so much professional learning.

Starting a full-time position at a two-year college, I found a critical resource in TETYC. I was and am committed to the critical work of open-admissions campuses, and I also knew that access-institutions differ in significant ways from the Research 1 campus where I had completed my doctoral work. With selective admissions and a largely residential student population, my graduate institution had a very different student population than the two-year college where I taught. Transitioning to a teaching environment where I was working with a wider range of students in terms of demographic diversity and academic preparation meant that professional support (in addition to the institutional and collegial support I had) was imperative.

I’ve made a career and home at this institution doing this work. Now, taking on the editorial role of the journal that was so critical to my development as a teacher-scholar means that I am able to continue providing that professional resource to colleagues, one that was so important to me as an early-career teacher. As our submission call indicates,

We seek articles (4,000–7,000 words) in all areas of composition (basic, first-year, and advanced); business, technical, and creative writing; and the teaching of literature in the first two college years. We also publish articles on topics such as program and curriculum development, assessment, technology and online learning, writing program administration, developmental education in writing and reading, speech, writing centers in two-year colleges, journalism, reading, ESL, and other areas of professional concern.

This focus largely parallels what the journal has been doing since its inception in 1974. At the beginning of my editorship, I knew I wanted to retain many of the features of the journal: its commitment to engaging, rigorous scholarship, of course, but also the journal’s ability to meet the needs of various types of readers—those instructors who teach in vocational and technical colleges, in general education and transfer programs; in “junior colleges” that focus on transfer. Many readers are active researchers, while others focus largely on professional development and growth that directly affects their individual classrooms. The updated submission guidelines reflect that commitment to scholarship that fulfills the needs of a wide range of readers.

But there were some things I wanted to try—as we are in a well-established digital and social media age, expanding the presence of TETYC in these environments was important to me. I started a blog that would be a responsive way to reach out to and interact with readers. Further, I started my term by transitioning the submission process to Editorial Manager, an online management system that streamlines the submission and review process and allows authors to monitor the process of review. It also gives reviewers an interactive experience where they can more easily access other reader reports and follow up on their manuscript recommendations.

Last, respectful of the busy lives of two-year college teachers, who teach 4, 5, 6, or more classes each semester, we’re offering two new features—Review Essays and Symposiums. Review essays offer a broad overview of multiple new professional texts that help readers get a sense of how new published work in the field fits together and whether it can inform their own day-to-day work. Our first review essay, published in the December 2016 issue, reviews multiple texts on online writing instruction, something many two-year college faculty increasingly find themselves doing. Second, a symposium brings together expert voices on a topic of shared interest–our first, coordinated by Christie Toth (U of Utah) and Darin Jensen (Des Moines Area Community College) will appear in the September 2017 issue and will focus on preparing faculty for effective two-year college English teaching.

I welcome feedback and questions about the journal at

Holly Hassel is Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County in Wausau, Wisconsin. 

4 Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Full view of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DCIn honor and celebration of a writer and orator whose words changed the world, we offer four short quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The links go to the full texts from which these quotes were drawn as well as some resources that you may find useful for the classroom.

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”

From “The Purpose of Education” in the February 1947 edition of the Morehouse College student newspaper, the Maroon Tiger.

This quote and others are also explored in this Answer Sheet blog post from Valerie Strauss.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

From “A Proper Sense of Priorities” delivered February 6, 1968, Washington, D.C.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

From: Strength to Love (1963)

Explore many more original texts by Martin Luther King, Jr. in this digital archive.

“I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”

From “Where Do We Go From Here?,” delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention
Atlanta, Ga.  August 16, 1967.

You can listen Dr. King deliver the last 16 minutes of this speech here.



Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

KingDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929. Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, he was ordained as a minister in 1948. Dr. King became one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement in the U.S., advocating a nonviolent approach to fighting for equal rights. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. As we recognize his birthday, here are some activities based on his works.

Listen to a recording of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech and discuss the meaning of his words. This I Have a Dream lesson plan includes numerous discussion questions that can help guide class exploration of the speech.

Once students understand this speech, ask them how they would convey Dr. King’s vision and character without using words. To get started, look at these photographs of Dr. King and historical events in which he was involved. What messages are these photographs communicating?

Using the photographs as a model, have students work in groups or as a class to create a mural that depicts their understanding of Dr. King’s vision of peace. The Art and Activism unit from includes lessons on planning, creating, and sharing murals that you can use to get your own class mural underway. Once the project is complete, display murals throughout your school to honor Dr. King.

How do you plan to make this holiday “a day ON, not a day off?”

La Lucha es más fácil en Familia (The Struggle Is Easier among Family): Academics of Color Finding (and Founding) Supportive Community Spaces

This post is written by member Laura Gonzales. 

lauragonzalesIt’s no secret that academia can be a marginalizing and hostile space for people of color. Although there is extensive work citing various forms, instances, and motivations for this marginalization, for me, this struggle has always come in the form of failing (or fearing failing) to fit into standards and categorizations that were inherently built to displace non-white academics with non-white experiences. I never quite “fit” into definitions and trajectories for what an academic is “supposed” to be. Living outside the boundaries of what is deemed academic language through my linguistic and cultural background, and having to move through timelines other than what is deemed “appropriate” in academic trajectories, I’ve always felt a need to justify my decisions, positionality, and even sometimes my existence within academic spaces.

This was not the case during the first meeting with my 2016-2018 cohort in NCTE’s Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color fellowship program. Like many of my peers who’ve been through many years of school, I’ve experienced countless “introductory” or “icebreaker” meetings in a wide range of contexts. Typically, as many of us have experienced, these introductions consist of some type of instruction (“Tell us your name and where you’re from,” “Tell us your grade and what you did for fun this summer,” “Tell us your school and your research interests”) followed by a set of responses homogenous both in their tone and content (“My name is ____ and I’m from ____”). For me, these introductory sessions become an exercise in assimilation as I struggle to decide just how much of myself to reveal in a specific context:

 How do I pronounce my name to make these people comfortable?

Do I say “Lah-oo-ra” like my mom intended, or do I Anglicize to “Loh-ra”?

Do I say I’m “from” my Florida home in the US, or do I say I was born in Bolivia, preparing myself for the “oooohs” and “aaahs” and follow-up questions that often follow?

Do I tell them that “fun” for me this summer were the moments between shifts at the grocery store, or do I make up a vacation from my vault of imaginary getaways?

 Instead of sending me through this familiar maze of decision-making during our first meeting as the 2016-2018 CNV cohort in a large conference room at the 2017 NCTE Annual Convention, our director, Juan Guerra, simply asked us to sit together and listen. “Say whatever you want in whatever order you want,” he said. “It will all work out.” And it did.

The room immediately turned into a community of people who “get it”—who came together with the intention of listening rather than performing. During this CNV introduction, the new fellows introduced themselves by sharing anything that came to mind—stories of past experiences, struggles, successes, and future aspirations. These stories were met with nods and sighs and tears and smiles, both from other new fellows and from the mentors who paved the path that led us into this room.

It was during this introductory meeting that I met my mentor, Michelle Hall Kells, who, after listening to me talk endlessly about my anxieties and back-up plans for navigating the tenure track, simply said, “Laura, you have to start preparing for excellence. Stop preparing for worst-case scenario and realize that best-case scenario is what is going to happen. You’ve earned it.”

Michelle’s words are still echoing in my mind weeks after the first CNV Institute, along with the words of my CNV peers, who continue to encourage me and keep me grounded. As we prepare for the second CNV Institute in February, I’m continuing to plan for “best-case scenarios” in my career, knowing that my role in this game is no longer that of assimilation, but rather that of excellence in the footsteps of my CNV family.

Dr. Laura Gonzales is an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies in the Department of English at the University of Texas, El Paso. Her research focuses on intersections of technical communication, translation, and community activism.