Banning books in schools presents more significant problems than simply not adequately preparing students for college. A recent article in Inside Higher Ed highlights a few of the possible outcomes of banning books in high school, including lack of college readiness and a stifled passion for reading. The report focuses on the efforts of conservative groups to ban books that do not fit their conservative worldview, including books like Gender Queer: A Memoir or Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.
While the topic presented is critically important to the future of our free society, the author falls short by making the discussion more about conservative politics than the banning of books. The reality is that both the far right (as noted in this article) and the far left have been busy banning books. Teachers in California, for example, were barred from using To Kill A Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and others in lesson plans in an effort to keep students from harm.
In context to education and a free society, the goal of this article should not be to point fingers or take sides but rather to be unified in the concept that banning books is generally a bad idea. History has shown this to be true. Words are not violence, and books are not triggers. We need to encourage students to read books of all perspectives. More importantly, we need to encourage students to read books that challenge what they think, to force them to explore their preconceived notions and ideas. Educators cannot do that if the very books they need to expand the minds of their students are not allowed in their curriculum. Further, sheltering students from the realities of the world by not allowing them to read conflicting or unpopular views will not prepare them for life. This problem is not a problem of left versus right or conservative versus liberal, this is a problem of freedom versus censorship and right versus wrong.