Archive for the ‘Academic Freedom’ Category

Issues In Education

14 Oct

In the September 27, 2012 edition of the Chicago Tribune an article titled “District 86 allows R-rated movies in classrooms” was published. The article discusses that at Hinsdale South high school and Hinsdale Central high school parents and community members were outraged that “the Hinsdale Township High School District 86 school board voted not to suspend the showing of excerpts of such films as ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘American Beauty’ in a film-as-literature class, and  that the board will not prevent any other R-rated films from being shown in other classes at the schools” (Mannion, 2012). At the school board meeting many parents expressed that they were upset because they felt that the movies were exposing their children to topics that they felt were too mature for they children to view. The Hinsdale Library Board of Trustees President Johanna Delaney disagreed because parents had to to sign a permission slip allowing their children to see the movies. If parents didn’t want their children to view the film the students where given an alternative assignment. Delaney ultimately put the responsibility back on the parents saying, “Have the courage to say ‘no’ to your child — no you may not watch those movies” (Mannion, 2012). Many other parents and some students, who wanted the movies to be shown, said that “removing them would amount to censorship and loss of academic freedom and would rob students of an educational experience” (Mannion, 2012). In the end the school board voeted 5-2 in favor for allowing the videos to continued to be shown in the schools.

This is a very interesting situation because it comes down to people’s individual morals and what they view is appropriate for their child to be exposed to.  No matter which way the board voted they were going to get backlash from someone and they were going to be imposing on someone’s values and wishes. In this specific situation I think that the board made the correct choice. All teachers have the right to academic freedom in their classrooms. “Academic freedom refers to the teacher’s freedom to choose subject matter and instructional materials relevant to the the course without interference from administrators or outsiders” (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011, p. 268). The schools also informed the parents what movies where going to be shown in the classroom. They sent home permission slips for the parents to sign stating if the parents and/or students were uncomfortable with the movie material they were allowed to complete another assignment without punishment or question from the school. One thing that I think the teachers could have done to strengthen their argument and further justify their use of the movies would have been to send home a written explanation justifying their use of the movies in the classroom. “Teachers should have a written rationale for the materials they select, explaining how they fit into the curriculum…” (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011, p. 269). I think this situation may have been less of an issue if the parents had a full and complete understanding as to why those specific movies had been chosen, instead of say a PG-13 movie that parents see as more appropriate and they think could relay the same educational message. All in all I think the school board made the correct choice and the schools followed the correct steps to show the movies in their school. The school sent home permission slips and gave alternate assignments for students to complete if they were uncomfortable with the movies. Teachers should be allowed the teach with materials that they view will be effect and that they think will interest the students the most. No teacher wants to teach with materials that are over used or that they think are boring and no student wants to sit in a classroom and be bored! Students these days are so use to over overstimulation because they have cell phones, the internet, video games and many other devises that it can be hard to get them to focus so I can completely understand a teacher trying to find new ways to teach and engage their students and sometimes the materials they use not everyone is going to agree with. That is why it is wonderful to have academic freedom so that the teacher can be protected and given the chance to justify their teaching materials and lessons.


1. Mannion, A. (2012, September 27). District 86 allows r-rated movies in classrooms. Retrieved from

2. Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.).      Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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