Wednesday, March 08, 2006


"Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices." ~ Laurence J. Peter

Recently I received an e-mail from one of my son's teachers updating me on an assignment he was supposed to be doing. The assignment is a book report but, according to the teacher, it is something more than a mere book report. After reading the assignment, I don't see the difference.

I knew nothing about this assignment before I got the e-mail, but my son had asked me previously to go rent Mel Gibson's movie, "Man Without a Face". I've seen that movie and I couldn't for the life of me understand why he would want to see that movie specifically. Putting two and two together it became clear why. He has to make his report on the book the film is based upon, and he doesn't want to go to the trouble of actually reading it.

I like to read, and it troubles me that he doesn't, but nevertheless, I decided to do some research into the book in question to see if I could help him somewhat with his assignment since it is very important in regards to his final grade, and I don't want him to fail.

This is what I found:

From Wikipedia: "The Man Without a Face is a 1993 drama starring and directed by Mel Gibson. The movie is based on Isabelle Holland's 1972 novel. Most critics were impressed with what was Gibson's directing debut, but noted that the book's criticism of homophobia had been obscured in the film version."

"The book's criticism of homophobia?" Red flags going up now. Is my son's teacher pushing a politically correct agenda on his students? Is he attempting to indoctrinate my son and his peers with an inappropriate subject, one in which no one but the parents have any business delving into? Is he trying to normalize a decadent lifestyle, or worse still, to make my son gay?

I will not stand for that!

I was preparing for a fight with the school, and the school system, and ultimately with the state itself. I envisioned angry letters to the editor of the local newspaper. National news media picking up the story and creating a major controversy. Possibly an appearance on The Today Show, Larry King, Hannity and Colmes, etc. A precedence setting lawsuit. Or Two. Or three. Fame, wealth, and all the accoutrements.

No one has the right to cram their own values (or lack of them) down my son's throat without my approval. I do not want my son being taught what to think. I want him to be taught how to think.

Oh, The outrage!

So, when I spoke to my son about this later, I asked him, "Did the teacher assign this book to you, or did you choose it yourself?"

His answer? "He took us to the library and told us to pick a book to write about".

"So you chose to read this book?" I asked, my hopes for notoriety fading quickly, "He had no part in your decision of which book to read?"

"No", he answered, "I picked it out myself".

The next words out of my mouth?

"Well, you can't make your report from the movie. The movie doesn't make the major point of the book. You'll have to read the book."

And he'd better, too. If he doesn't, I'll kick his you-know-what.


Sheila said...

Isn't that the way of it too. LOL By the way. I think that was one film critic's version of "essence" I think.

I've read the book and seen the movie. The Movie is about a man who is horricially disfigured and I child who is without a father figure. How they heal each other.

It's about sensless prejudice for someone who is ugly.

Mark said...

Yes, the film is about that, Sheila, but the book is about senseless prejudice against homosexuality.

I didn't read the book, but from what I understand, in the book's version, the main character had been accused previously of child molesting which led to the townspeople's objections to him tutoring the young boy. But, like I said, I haven't read the book, so I may be wrong.

Sheila said...

NO your not wrong, the film touches on it too. The Book touches on it.

But the reason this wrong accusation is made is because his face is so disfigured, people don't trust him.

After years a piece of groundless gossip becomes the towns reality.

Lone Ranger said...

You won't find anything like that in "Roy Rogers and the Raiders of Sawtooth Ridge."

Poison Pero said...

That was very entertaining, Mark.....I can almost picture your head spinning. As mine would have been too.


My daughter's principle, and district superintendant are very familiar with my face, and I can just see your local administrators having to face your wrath.
Oh by the way, let him watch the movie......I did it many times as a teenager, and it hasn't hurt me in the slightest:)

Trust me, he's not gaining or losing anything by saving the extra hours of BS he'll read in the book.

Then take him to go see Brokeback Mountain afterwards........Doh!!

Mark said...

Pero, He's seen the movie before. But the movie doesn't mention the fact that the man wothout a face is gay, and a possible child molestor, which changes the whole point of the story.

In the movie, he is shunned because he is ugly. In the book it is because the townspeople fear he will molest the boy.

Goat said...

So I would suggest that you read the book at the same time and offer your insight in conversation with him. I did this with my exes son and "Tom Sawyer", he did not like to read so I drew him into the story through conversation and it worked, he did very well on the report. Set up a system where he reads 2-3 chapters and then you do or get two copies and stay ahead of his questions. I would imagine they were given a list to choose from, I always was in this type assignment. This is a great chance for some serious discourse between you and your son, take advantage of it as a solid intelligent Christian and lead him to a higher learning.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

If he doesn't, I'll kick his you-know-what.

Isn't this the same kid who dictates what channel the tv is on and how much time he gets to spend on the computer, even when you want to get on to blog? I've read a number of posts from you where it sounds like your son is "king of the household".