John Locke, a famous Enlightenment philosopher whose writings influenced the Declaration of Independence, once said, "The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it". And especially, in a world that has become seemingly more hostile and convoluted, today's education of our world - holistically - should be top priority.
Now, more than ever, we should focus on preparing our kids to deal with an unknown, dangerous world that is ever changing. Now, more than ever, we should talk about the uncomfortable subjects and analyze the history that we as humans have lived and created so that the future are prepared if and when it repeats.
Are we doing that?
Within the school systems are required reading books per grade level, each level being organized by a central theme that dictates the list of books that are read. One of the most anticipated books, and, in my opinion, one of the best that is read in school, is a book called Columbine by Dave Cullen. The book - predictably - analyzes the school bombing/shooting, but it also goes more in depth about everything - who the shooters were, what they had intended to happen, who the victims were, the aftermath, etc. It is extremely well written, and it focuses on a theme that, unfortunately, seems only to be growing in prevalence.
And parents have decided that this is too sensitive of a subject to be read, complaining that it is "disturbing" and "inappropriate", and it is now being moved to an optional read.
Besides the obvious dig that presents itself - that, for a generation that looks down on the current high school kids for being "overly sensitive, close-minded snowflakes", this is a pretty close-minded sensitive statement to make - one has to just stop for a second. When did education become about learning what was comfortable? Why should we learn only about what we want to learn about?
Jewish people do not choose to skip the Holocaust lessons, although I'm sure that that is a disturbing topic to discuss in depth for many people. Nobody avoids discussing slavery, even though I'm sure it's lovely to hear about the oppression of your ancestors. Columbine was legitimate history. It happened. People died. Just like both of the aforementioned historical events. And it is equally important that everyone is aware that it happened, especially high school kids whose peers - and I'm knocking on wood as I say this - could possibly be considering something similar. (I really hope not, but there was a threat at my school about a year and a half ago)
I recognize that you have the ability to censor your own child's knowledge, and if you'd prefer they not get their mind disturbed with modern, relevant history, that's your prerogative. But when you start raising hell and waving fists, you affect everybody's education. Because of you, children who are growing up to change the world (yours included) are missing out on exposure to world events and new points of view that could potentially be relevant later in life. Wouldn't it be better for somebody to read a book that freaked them out a little bit but allowed them to see the signs of the planning of a school shooting now? That's what education is for, at least.
Perhaps you'd prefer your child not to know about these things, but I believe education should be free and open, and everybody who gave permission to be interviewed and included in that book - who was personally, irrevocably affected by the events and thoughts that were written down and shared with the world - believe in that same principle. They believe their stories could possibly change the future for the better. As Neal Donald Walsch once said, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone". Being afraid to hear about history is a limitation you are imposing on yourself, and, by virtue of your sensitivity, you are censoring everyone else's education.
Literature is meant to be an escape. Throughout history, people have used expressive writing to put their thoughts and feelings into a shareable media that is relateable and understandable. It IS the softer way to hear history. And other people would like the benefits of the education that comes from a class reading of a novel - discussions, classwork, etc. - that you do not have the right to take from them. Talk to your children if something disturbs you; hiding from the world does not mean it doesn't exist.
There can be no democracy without freedom of speech, and there can be no freedom of speech when people get censored. Please, respect others' rights to education. Nobody can be expected to change the world when they got half of an education - especially when it wasn't even the challenging, thought-provoking half.