SS 92: Mother Knows Best (Censorship in the Homeschool)

Censorship and do-good cancelation of opposing view points is a thing right now. When the media and governments censor what gets published based on whether or not it aligns with their agenda, it’s obviously wrong and tyrannical.

But what about parents?

Can parents censor what their children read, even basing that choice upon what they do and don’t agree on?

Yes. It’s not the same thing. The difference is that parents have been given the job by God to raise up their children and educate them. The media and government have no such role.

Today’s episode gets into some conflicting advice from respected classical authors: Plato and Milton.

Plato was all-for complete censorship of ideas, music, and more, so that not only children, but his whole society, would not know anything but what was good. Plato’s Republic was also a tyranny. Yet, he did develop why censorship was particularly appropriate for those being educated.

Milton, on the other hand, was coming out of a government that was less than forthright and honest in its news and reports. He took the opposite tactic and wrote a pamphlet against censorship, both in the government and in education.

Today’s conversation lets these two views interact, applying the topic to the home and home education rather than society or government.

Listen to the podcast:

TUNE IN:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

If you want to dig into today’s topic with more depth and practical advice, you’ll love our Spring Training event taught by Rosaria Butterfield: Intellectual Hospitality. We only have so much time with our kids at home. Whether or not we censor particular books, we still have to choose where our time and energy will go, which books we will buy and read, and what to prioritize during our school hours. Rosaria’s sessions are down-to-earth, relatable, and practical. Intellectual Hospitality is your next step to dig into today’s topic. 

Today’s Hosts and Source

Brandy Vencel
homeschools her 4 children in California and doesn’t let them read AO books ahead of schedule.

Pam Barnhill
homeschools her 3 children in Alabama and doesn’t have time for bad books.

Mystie Winckler
homeschools her 5 children in Washington State and has been laissez-faire with their bookshelves, with some regrets.

Abby Wahl
homeschools her 5 children in Oregon and gets choosy with her books because read-aloud time is limited.

Source introduction

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

John Milton, Areopagitica

Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot….Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

Plato, Republic

Scholé Everyday: What We’re Reading

#92 Scholé Everyday
The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato

The definitive translation of Plato's Republic, the most influential text in the history of Western philosophy

Long regarded as the most accurate rendering of Plato's Republic that has yet been published, this widely acclaimed translation by Allan Bloom was the first to take a strictly literal approach. In addition to the annotated text, there is also a rich and valuable essay -- as well as indices -- which will enable readers to better understand the heart of Plato's intention.

More info →
Buy now!
Aeropagitica

Aeropagitica

From Amazon:
"John Milton was celebrated and denounced in his own time both as a poet and as a polemicist. Today he is remembered first and foremost for his poetry, but his great epic Paradise Lost was published very late in his life, in 1667, and in his own time most readers more readily recognized Milton as a writer of prose. This superbly annotated new book is an authoritative edition of Milton’s major prose works, including Of Education, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and the Divorce tracts, as well as the famous 1644 polemical tract opposing licensing and censorship, Areopagitica."

More info →
Buy now!
Fellowship of the Ring

Fellowship of the Ring

From Amazon:

"In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose."

More info →
Buy now!
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

From Amazon:

"In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat has taught everyone from professional chefs to middle school kids to author Michael Pollan to cook using her revolutionary, yet simple, philosophy. Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time."

More info →
Buy now!

Areopagitica, John Milton

The first speech on the right to free speech. Brandy is reading this work because she’s into political liberty right now.

The Republic, Plato

Mystie is reading this along with the book club inside Sistership.

Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

Pam is reading this in her “Bromance for the Ages” 5×5 challenge categories.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat

Abby is reading this cookbook with a friend and loving the look at how cooking and food works.

Milton wrote the first free speech manifesto

Milton, in Aeropagitica, makes four main arguments against censorship. His government was toying with licensing all publishing, forbidding anything contrary to the crown to be published. Milton steps up with why that would be a terrible idea.

  1. The historical argument: who has done this before? Only those we’d not approve, including the Spanish Inquisition. Want to join up with them?
  2. The effect on reading will be bad because there is no dialectic conversation between what you’re reading.
  3. It is actually going to be ineffective. It’s an attempt to create a utopia and will thus be doomed from the start.
  4. Censorship harms learning.

What is censorship?

According to The American Heritage dictionary, a censor is

1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.

2. An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.

3. One that condemns or censures.

The act of censorship is “to examine and expurgate” the whole or part of a work.

What motivates censorship?

The goal of the censorship is to “protect” people from “wrong” ideas. Censoring is done to shape and mold the society into the desired form by banning exposure to counterarguments and different cultures.

It’s motivated by utopianism. Dystopian literature generally points to the fact that attempts at utopias through censorship and other means will end in dystopias.

Utopianism can also motivate moms, but not all filtering and censoring in the home is wrong-headed utopianism.

Protecting our kids from sin

We ought to protect our kids from the corruption of the world in many ways. However, keeping out all mention of sin will not therefore keep our kids from sin.

We have to remember that sin starts in each heart. It isn’t external. So if you keep out books with lying and bad attitudes, your kids will still discover lying and bad attitudes on their own.

On the other hand, our kids should be protected in their young years from the sexualization and twisted perversions of the world. Later, however, they need to know what’s going on or they actually will not be protected from what they encounter.

Creating an ideal world through censorship

Plato wanted to edit and revise all works and music and any cultural artifact so that nothing contradicted the narrative they are trying to create in their just society. If the people never encounter bad ideas in cultural works, they won’t have or live out bad ideas.

There’s an element of truth in Plato’s conclusions. Stories and music do shape us and introduce us to ideas in an attractive and compelling way. However, Plato’s application presumes that people are good and just in and of themselves and all corruption comes from the outside.

Plato is concerned with having a perfect society. Milton, on the other hand, is concerned with having a free and thinking people. Milton’s goal is achievable. Plato’s is not.

Censorship prevents thought & discovery

To really think and understand an idea, we need to be free to explore the issue. The prevention of any unapproved idea will short-circuit the reasoning and understanding process.

Instead of trying to simplify learning into simply receiving predetermined ideas, we need to use wisdom to walk our children through the discovery and understanding process. We need to not be afraid of error on our way to truth, because all humans will mix error with truth as they process and learn and reason.

We need practice handling that process and discerning error in logic and reasoning.

Parents have the authority to censor

It is the parents’ prerogative to decide what will be best for the education and training of their own children.

Choosing to censor or ban certain material is entirely appropriate when used with caution and wisdom.

Censoring or banning books or movies, however, is never alone going to produce a healthy learning environment. Much more is needed.

Parents have the duty to train

Censoring is easier than training.

In the early years, we are careful about what we allow into our homes, but equipping our children to handle adult life with thoughtful wisdom requires much more of us than simply keeping out bad influences.

Four kinds of censorship in the home

First, you can simply keep bad books out of your home.

Second, you can keep a shelf of books that children are not permitted to access.

Third, you can read books aloud and leave out inappropriate parts.

Four, you can buy pre-censored and expurgated editions of books (like Reader’s Digest).

What kind of censoring is appropriate?

To spend more time filling them up with good stories, good theology, good philosophy, good conversation than in worrying about whether or not they’ll read something bad or wrong. This is what Rosaria Butterfield taught in Spring Training, also.

Wes Callihan had a piece on Harry Potter that said he wasn’t worried about kids reading it; he was worried it’d be the first compelling story the child encounters for himself.

A child raised on better stories and better writing won’t be captivated by Harry Potter because the quality just isn’t there – and that goes triple for any of the other modern bestsellers. 

Teaching self-censorship

The goal isn’t to figure out the best way to filter and censor in our homes. That’s just a tool we might need to sometimes use toward our actual goal of raising responsible adults.

Having the work of discernment always done for them will not result in prepared, equipped young adults.

Transitioning from complete protection and dependence to personal responsibility and independence is the work of parenting.

The desire to avoid risk

There is no formula for parenting. It is not possible for our societies or our families to be utopias.

Some censorship is done out of a desire to avoid risk, but parenting is risky.

Our kids won’t be complete or squeaky clean when they leave our homes, just as we currently are not complete or squeaky clean. What we all need to know and practice is repentance and love of the true.

Mentioned in the Episode

#92 Topical Discussion
The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato

The definitive translation of Plato's Republic, the most influential text in the history of Western philosophy

Long regarded as the most accurate rendering of Plato's Republic that has yet been published, this widely acclaimed translation by Allan Bloom was the first to take a strictly literal approach. In addition to the annotated text, there is also a rich and valuable essay -- as well as indices -- which will enable readers to better understand the heart of Plato's intention.

More info →
Buy now!
Aeropagitica

Aeropagitica

From Amazon:
"John Milton was celebrated and denounced in his own time both as a poet and as a polemicist. Today he is remembered first and foremost for his poetry, but his great epic Paradise Lost was published very late in his life, in 1667, and in his own time most readers more readily recognized Milton as a writer of prose. This superbly annotated new book is an authoritative edition of Milton’s major prose works, including Of Education, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and the Divorce tracts, as well as the famous 1644 polemical tract opposing licensing and censorship, Areopagitica."

More info →
Buy now!
1984

1984

From Amazon:

"

It is 1984, and the worlds' three major powers-Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia-are constantly at war. In Oceania, where the Party is in power, the thought police unearth every act of dissent, and Big Brother is always watching. Winston Smith, a dutiful citizen of Oceania, works for the Ministry of Truth as a propaganda writer who rewrites history to suit the needs of the authoritarian government. But when Winston falls in love with fellow worker Julia, they begin to question the very system they work for, placing them in immense danger. Pursuing their forbidden love affair, Winston plans a rebellion against the Party in order to regain the freedom to shape his own future. But the ever-watchful Big Brother will not tolerate opposition, and for those who speak up against the system or dare to think what the Party does not want them to think, Room 101 awaits them . . .

1984 is George Orwell's haunting prophesy of the future, which has held multiple generations of readers spellbound in its chilling and terrifying vision of life under a totalitarian regime. Powerful and unforgettable, this still-relevant novel explores the obliteration of truth, individuality and liberty in a world where the ruling power seeks to control everything, from information to thought and memory."

 

More info →
Buy now!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

From Amazon:

"It’s an ordinary Thursday morning for Arthur Dent . . . until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly after to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and Arthur’s best friend has just announced that he’s an alien.

After that, things get much, much worse.

With just a towel, a small yellow fish, and a book, Arthur has to navigate through a very hostile universe in the company of a gang of unreliable aliens. Luckily the fish is quite good at languages. And the book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy . . . which helpfully has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover."

More info →
Buy now!
Gone With the Wind

Gone With the Wind

From Amazon:

"Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years."

 

More info →
Buy now!
The Martian – classroom edition

The Martian – classroom edition

From Amazon:

"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first."

More info →
Buy now!
The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

From Amazon:

"The Three Musketeers tells the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman, D'Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King's Musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of Cardinal Richelieu, and the honour of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of seventeenth century France are vividly played out in the background. But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal's spy, Milady, one of literature's most memorable female villains, and Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping and dramatic conclusion"

More info →
Buy now!
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

From Amazon:

"Ernest Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn". One hundred years after its author’s death, this classic remains remarkably modern and poignantly relevant. In this brand new edition, Elijah Wood reads Huck in a youthful voice that may be the closest interpretation to Twain’s original intent. His performance captures the excitement and confusion of adolescence and adventure. Best of all, the immediacy of Wood’s energetic reading sweeps listeners up and makes them feel as though they’re along for the ride, as Huck and Jim push their raft toward freedom."

More info →
Buy now!

SS #40: Moms: Learn and Grow! (Part II — with Cindy Rollins!)

In this special bonus summer season episode, the Scholé Sisters meet up with Cindy Rollins for a special, 2-part podcast. Catch the first part over on The Mason Jar podcast, and then come back here for Part II. In Part I, we discussed Charlotte Mason’s views on self-education and how that applies to moms. In…
Read More

SS #25: To Pre-Read or Not to Pre-Read (Why Is It Even a Question?)

Today’s episode was recorded when we had the joy of all being together in the same room (along with our friend, Dawn Garrett) for the Scholé Sisters Leadership Retreat in Portland. We had so much fun! We hope you enjoy this episode, even though there are a couple places where the sound is sub-par. (What…
Read More

Read widely with us this year.

Similar Posts