Lynch Questions Language in New History Book
Explicit language used in "Rockin' in Time" book for American History Through Music course at Norton High.
About five months ago the School Committee approved a new class for Norton High School seniors, American History Through Music. At Monday night’s meeting, however, there was disagreement on the book being used for the class due to some explicit language contained within its pages.
“Rockin’ In Time,” published by Prentice Hall, was recommended to Social Studies teacher Eric Paulus for the course by several area high school teachers. The book, which comes with online resources, explores the connection between music and history.
“This book really suits the needs of the course very well,” Paulus said. “For me the biggest selling point for this was that it really weaves perfectly history and music.”
According to the book description on Amazon.com, “It places rock and roll in the context of the social issues that surround and shape it, dealing with the influence on rock music of such trends as technological advances, the development of the music business, demographic change and the baby boom, economic shifts, and the civil rights movement.”
Committee member Phillip Lynch expressed concerns that the book, particularly the rock and rap chapters, was not age appropriate and may cause parents to be upset. He quoted an excerpt from the book that read: “I remember eating f****ng Raisin Bran for Christmas dinner. Kids are always going to go through and using guitars to express how f****d up they feel.”
Paulus said that a lesson will be planned to tackle the issue of controversial music head on. He also noted that a letter containing the course description will be sent home to parents to sign allowing or prohibiting their children to take the class.
“I’m very excited about the course,” said Norton High School principal Raymond Dewar. “Mr. Paulus did a lot of due diligence in researching in which text would be best for this particular course. I understand Mr. Lynch’s concerns, but you can’t run and hide from what was there. You have to be able to take those things. You don’t learn from the past by ignoring it.”
“I know in our English Language Arts program there’s controversial literature. People banned Huckleberry Fin,” said Social Studies academic coordinator Paul Duff. “I think Mr. Paulus has the knowledge and the background and the experience to treat the subject in a very sensitive manner, but also in light of the historical period we are in, which is very very important. That was part of the jargon, part of what was going on. Having kids exposed to it from an educator’s point of view they can better understand the context. “
Committee chairman Andrew Mackie was more concerned with the price tag of $45.99 per book. Research will be done to see if schools can take advantage of better deals on Amazon in the future.
In the end, all but Lynch approved the use of “Rockin’ in Time.”