Reading To Make A Difference: Using Literature To Help Students Speak Freely, Think Deeply, And Take Action, by Lester L. Laminack and Katie Kelly
This book really made me upset, because it demonstrated the absence of moral and intellectual soundness on the part of teachers who adopt the leftist approach to contemporary elementary education. This book is a course in the hypocrisy and double standards of education, and in fact demonstrates persuasively (if unintentionally) that the political concerns of contemporary education are a major reason for the failure in the education of America’s youth. There is little to this book that demonstrates speaking freely, thinking deeply, or taking meaningful action to the deep problems of our contemporary world. However, the freedom to parrot contemporary political correctness, the illusion of deep-thinking by adopting the characteristic obsessions of the contemporary left, and encourages the sort of slactivism that makes people think of themselves as generous and enlightened for believing in the misguided worldview of the contemporary left. It is unclear, though, the extent to which this book is intentional in these failings. Are the authors are that they are being massive hypocrites and are pawning off counterfeit freedom in lieu of the freedom to question and critique and correct contemporary follies? Or are they so blinded by their ideology that they actually believe themselves to be enlightened guides to wisdom? I suspect it is the latter.
This book is a short one of about 150 pages or so. The book begins with a list of online videos, acknowledgements, and an introduction that seeks to bridge an understanding of ourselves and others that reads like Marxist struggle sessions where the authors apologize for their upbringing and background. After this comes the eight chapters of the main contents of the book, beginning with a chapter on the contemporary leftist obsession with identity politics (1), After that comes a chapter on making unlikely friends (2), which again emphasizes the contemporary obsession with identity as well as the importance to people of being allies to bolster their own ego. This is followed by a chapter on coping with loss (3) that could be argued as a way that leftist teachers traumatize youth so as to better manipulate them through getting them to focus on outrage. This is followed by a chapter that emphasizes the inability of the contemporary left to properly respect boundaries and borders (4), as well as chapters that demonstrate the shrill focus on advocating and protesting for undesirable cultural change (5). The last three chapters of the book focus on things that make contemporary leftists feel like good people, sharing when one has little to give (6), honoring others (7), unless they happen to be Christian white men, I suppose, and then lending a helping hand (8), after which the book ends with various resources that the authors recommend.
It is hard to tell whether this book is directly cynical or merely self-deceived in its approach. For example, the authors show teachers taking control of classes while not claiming that they are taking control. The book as a whole repeatedly demonstrates extreme verbal irony, where the authors urge respect for the identities of others while having already demonstrated (in the introduction) an extreme and lamentable degree of self-hatred for having been raised in decent families of white people, as if that was a bad thing. The author’s unwillingness to show to Christians the same degree of respect that is shown to Muslims, to men the same degree of honor shown to women, to whites the same degree of concern for honor and respect that is given to various minorities, and various obsessive concerns with supposed sexual minorities without giving the same degree of respect to heteronormativity suggests that the contemporary left is highly concerned with presenting an inverse world that turns what is in fact normal and acceptable into what is rejected as outside, and vice versa, not realizing that this perpetuates the sort of injustice that the authors and others of their ilk consider themselves above, but alas are not.