School removes "Lord Of The Flies" from curriculum for lack of diversity

Originally published at: School removes "Lord Of The Flies" from curriculum for lack of diversity | Boing Boing


Even in the absence of diversity, those kids still managed to find someone to discriminate against.


I take it that the good people at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board have concluded - beyond any reasonable doubt - that white, male power structures have been completely overcome and do no longer represent a problem, yes?
Well, if that isn’t good news, I don’t know what is…


Lord of the Flies is a good exploration of the toxic white male power structures that a lot of students (especially white males who are often blind to it) do need to learn more about. The main reason that it’s been the go-to work on the topic in middle schools, though, comes down to its supposed “relatability” to young people because the characters are also adolescents (see also To Kill a Mockingbird, Diary of Anne Frank, Catcher in the Rye, etc.). Diversity is important so, in that spirit, schools really do have to start giving kids of that age more credit or at least more opportunity to consider various issues from the point of view of adult characters as well as young ones.


The student’s comment is rather strange. She complains that classic literature does not provide useful “information” that students can “relate to our modern-day lives”. Reading the full text, I see that the student took a class on Indigenous literature, used the works studied in the class as sources of factual information about Indigenous society and history, and seems to expect English literature classes to explain contemporary Canadian society in the same way:

I need to be able to relate what I learn in my English class to current societal factors because this is how I learn. Having one Indigenous Literature class is not enough. This class is full of an outstanding amount of useful information that I will continue to use throughout my lifetime. Throughout grade 11, I was able to acknowledge and understand the severity of trauma that Indigenous peoples face every day. Furthermore, I was able to apply the information that I learnt from these Indigenous playwrights, poets and authors to my current life, and this is exactly why it was my favourite course in high school.


With that in mind I would like to suggest “The Alchemists of Kush” by Minister Faust. There is contemporary Canadian book that is full of relatable and teachable moments.

I can’t help but think it would be even more disturbing to the school board because it not only highlights some oppressive toxic culture, it also suggests some alternatives. Still, should be taught in schools.


The real ‘Lord of the Flies’ is a lot more optimistic:


Yes, I thought the focus on “information” was a bit point-missing. But then, she’s the student here. If her teachers want to use Lord of the Flies as a vehicle to explore the issues she’s talking about, it’s their job to justify that (which I think they could). And if they agree with her, they can do so in their own words. Either way it smells pretty bad that they put a student out front as a political lighting rod for decisions they’ve made. The whole point of them is to know better than their students.

(I don’t know who decided to make this into a story I’m reading about thousands of miles away, and maybe it wasn’t the school board, but they ought to have known how stuff like this can play)


Do you want Republicans? Because this is how you get Republicans.


Was the list limited to a certain number of books?

If so, that could be the reason they removed that novel and others, to make way for others. As the latter happens, some of the supposed timeless classics do need to fall by the wayside, since there’s only a certain amount of reading space in any given semester.


Yep. This sounds like a stereotypical causehead. It’s like she’s chopped up a bunch of perfectly valid arguments for different things and turned them into a word salad that supports nothing.

And I’d argue that we do need to study white male supremacy, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist and then act all dumbfounded when it does.


I doubt a “Black, Jewish, feminist social justice activist” will ever act or be dumbfounded when told that a white supremacist patriarchy still exists. She’s arguing for more inclusion of minority perspectives, not complete exclusion of majority ones.

And btw, @thomdunn, as noted in a correction at one of your sources, the board never did remove Lord of the Flies

Correction: This article has been corrected. An earlier version stated that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board had removed the book The Lord of the Flies from its curriculum. A school board spokesperson says the book remains available within the board for study.*


Don’t worry, Canada, the US is rapidly devolving into real-world examples of those cautionary tales. /s


That leads me to agree with the point made above that the way this story is framed is likely to put this student in the cross hairs:

we shouldn’t be memorizing passages of information that we truly can not relate to our modern-day lives. Additionally, without being able to make real-life comparisons, this information does not stick with us… so are we really learning anything?

That leaves a lot of books off the list.


That was excellent! Thank you for sharing it. :slightly_smiling_face:


Precisely. This is a non-story. The board is reviewing and updated the recommended books in its curriculum, and took into account comments from students in the process. Good for them.

The real story here should be about how and why a whole bunch of reactionaries picked this up to generate outrage on social media. That really is the story of our time.


Much as I love BB, this article is part of the problem, and the headline is factually wrong. Please fix it, @thomdunn


Yeah, my sense is that the adults on the school board decided to use (twist) the student’s comments as an excuse to ‘take their ball and go home’ because confronting white supremacy is hard.


Kenan Thompson Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live

At some point, we need to get past the “only white men’s perspectives should be taught in a classics class” mindset. That shouldn’t even be controversial at this point.


“Lord of The Flies” has long been a common target for censorship due to its strong criticism of white, male power structures. The “lack of diversity” assertion used as a tool for defending white, male power structures is truly inspired.