Keep "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" as part of the Oxford curriculum
Oxford has always strived to give it's students a well-rounded education. It has done so in the Language Arts through a curriculum of diverse literature; literature that is thought-provoking, relevant, and often containing difficult themes. Oxford has, for the most part, done well with this. However last week the decision to pull Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was made and on Tuesday the 16th the School Board will decide whether or not it will continue being part of the Oxford curriculum.
Censoring this book will only do a disservice to the students. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is frequently challenged on the basis of "age-appropriateness," a subjective standard often used by adults who wish to shelter kids from subjects they themselves find uncomfortable. Maya Angelou's critically-acclaimed book does cover heavy topics such as race, sexuality, sexual violence, and trauma. However it is naive to think that students aren't already affected by the topics at hand. The nation is currently wrought with protests after the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and more; and according to RAINN.org, 29% of sexual assualt victims are between the ages of twelve and seventeen. While these may be hard things to talk about, they are things already at hand for students. They are hearing, learning, and experiencing these issues, and are more than capable of understanding and critically thinking about them. Silence does not make these issues disappear. Students have the right to sharpen their critical thinking skills with real-life issues as they prepare for the real world.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings holds great literary merit. It revolutionized the autobiography, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970, held a place on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years, and was named as one of the 100 most influential books written in English since 1923 by Time Magazine. It's theme of identity as Maya Angelous describes her journey of learning to love herself is a very relateable theme for high schoolers who are faced with so many decisions about their future.
Please sign the petition in support of keeping I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in the Oxford curricula. To take it away would be to diminish the value of an Oxford education.
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