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I am glad you posted this! I had a visit Tuesday from the Assistant
Superintendent because a parent claims I am teaching witchcraft and
pornography. This parent is a preacher in a very conservative Christian
church. I have not talked to him yet, but I guess his daughter chose to
put horns on a paper mask we made the week of Halloween. My lesson
introduced a few examples of paper masks inspired by masks from
different Native American Tribes in Alaska. The reason I used them was
to generate the idea that students could add stuff like ears, a nose,
arms, legs, etc outside the face of the mask. In my presentation, I show
them how to make a basic mask form, then, I tell the students, they are
now in charge of what they add to their masks. (trying to encourage
independent decision making skills). At no time did I tell them what to
put on their mask, and recall thinking it was ironic that this preachers
child was putting horns on hers.
As I walk around the room I try to reinforce the students and encourage
them to try new things on the mask. I notice that many students make
masks that reflect their interest in a movie or something outside of
Back to the issue... what to do when confronted by parents like this?
Look up the thread called "Censorship" which started in January of 98 in
the Artsednet archives.
There are many many great ideas. The first thing we did (with the same
parent) was to not let the student go to art that day. After that the
classroom teacher and I felt she should be in class, and she started
again. I will keep you posted as to what comes up this time...The
principal is at a conference this week so, it will be dealt with next
My principal felt that it is best not to get into a confrontation with
this kind of thinking, and she communicated to the parent that she
respected his beliefs. She did support my teaching and my curriculum. So
far, I feel the administration is behind me. I shared a printout of the
Censorship thread with the Assistant Superintendent.
Kayenta Intermediate School