Monday, January 25, 2010

Sexy Dictionaries

So a school in southern California has banned a dictionary for defining oral sex. It's making some news through the Internet, but I have to wonder why.

The school in question is a grammar school, typically meaning 1st through 5th grade. My memory is a bit fuzzy from my time as a grammar school student but I'm pretty sure that the dictionaries for use young children were highly abridged. The dictionary that is in question is a Merriam-Webster’s 10th edition. Was it for kids, for high school students, for college students? No word on that.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's not unreasonable to say, "A college level dictionary is inappropriate for grammar school students."

That said, I know I and many of my male friends looked for dirty words in the dictionary. It's what boys do. (Sorry ladies I can't speak for you on this one.) The definition given is pretty vague to be fair: "oral stimulation of the genital."

With the Internet widely available to kids, with or without supervision, this is not the worst thing in the world. Better that they are educated than misinformed, yes?

EDIT: This article on Salon.com puts it better than I could.

3 comments:

mattg said...

I'm usually not in favor of limiting access to info. Or to underestimating kids. I had a pretty high reading level in 5th grade, and probably needed something like a college dictionary. Plus banning books has a lot of cultural baggage; I just wouldn't go there.

Marc said...

Matt,
I agree with you. I don't think these dictionaries should be BANNED just because some parent is being naive about what their child is exposed to.

I had not though about it from the childrens perspective. It would not be fair to remove an educational tool, in favor of a lesser one. It forces the smarter children to dumb down to the level of children who don't work as hard or who are simply not as smart.

However we do have an issue that will continue to crop up; how do we educate the children, responsibly, without exposing them to materials that are perhaps beyond their age, especially when the Internet is so indiscriminate?

Henry said...

Parents will always be naive as to how much their children know. Heck, I remember discovering National Geographic in 5th grade, it was almost as good as when I found my first Playboy.

Children are curious and will discover whatever they want on their own. Playing doctor or whatever, they will discover the differences between the sexes and what exactly those bits are for.