Teaching the Future

Books with a message that teaches students about history, and the effects on people during that time and the effects it has today are important to learn in order to understand our society. The book Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck in 1937 mentions topics that were consistent in history but does not address that these occurrences were wrong and horrible to experience. Of Mice and Men has been questioned in schools for years because of the controversial subjects. Of Mice and Men should not be taught in school because with the wrong context, it can leave students feeling discouraged without addressing the blatant racism, sexism, and lack of respect for people with mental disabilities.Books with a message that teaches students about history, and the effects on people during that time and the effects it has today are important to learn in order to understand our society.

The book Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck in 1937 mentions topics that were consistent in history but does not address that these occurrences were wrong and horrible to experience. Of Mice and Men has been questioned in schools for years because of the controversial subjects. Of Mice and Men should not be taught in school because with the wrong context, it can leave students feeling discouraged without addressing the blatant racism, sexism, and lack of respect for people with mental disabilities.

The racist and derogatory terms used often throughout the book could be used as a teaching opportunity, but since teachers are also humans, that teaching opportunity may give students the wrong idea. According to Marshall University Libraries in 2015 Of Mice and Men was “Retained in the Brauberd... School District curriculum despite the complaints of … [for] the use of the n-word to describe African Americans, and the term "Japs.". The reports of complaints demonstrate that the book is being questioned, the questioning of this book is valid because of the derogatory terms used in the book. In Of Mice and Men, Crooks said: “If I say something, why it’s just a n***** sayin’ it.” (Steinbeck 123).

Although this statement is pertinent to that time it is also discouraging and unnecessary in order to learn about this time. Another example is Curley’s wife saying: “Well, you keep your place then, N*****. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.” (Steinbeck 141). The treatment of Crooks is a way to teach students about racism in the 1930s, but it is an outdated way of teaching and could be taught in a thoughtful way, so students can understand how that affects their lives. Racism should be taught in school and students should know all the mistreatment that has happened in our history and be able to think and reflect on it in all classrooms that are teaching this material. Of Mice and Men uses language that is unhelpful for teaching since the book is outdated and does not allow students to process the information presented in the book.

Of Mice and Men can leave readers discouraged after reading because of the lack of respect for women that is not acknowledged and can often be looked over or be seen as unimportant. Marshall University Libraries said that In 2008 Of Mice and Men “Retained in the Olathe… 9th-grade curriculum despite a parent calling the novel ... "derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.". The complaints about the book’s derogatory terms against women are logical seeing that the book was derogatory toward women consistently. George looked around at Lennie “Jesus, what a tramp,” he said. “So that’s what Curley picks for a wife.” (Steinbeck 59).

This quote is an example of a comment that can be overlooked if it is not mentioned or talked about. Sexism should still be taught in schools along with racism. Another example is when Curley’s wife said: “I get lonely...You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?” (Steinbeck 150). The treatment of Curley’s wife is as if she is less than human, not because she is a racist, but because she is a woman, she is treated as Curley’s object and is controlled by him. The sexist comments in Of Mice and Men could be ignored or belittled with just the information provided.

Without the right teacher, this book cannot be taught since students may get the wrong idea because the book does not mention disrespect toward mentally disabled people, this also applies to racist and sexist comments. George was talking to Slim about Lennie and said: “Well, he seen this girl in a red dress. Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch ever’thing he likes” (Steinbeck 74-75). Comments on mental health can be harmful because students do not know the correct terms and do not know the full harm of treating people with mental disabilities as less than human. When talking about Lennie, George said: “I used to have a hell of a lot of fun with ‘im. Used to play jokes on ‘im ‘cause he was too dumb to take care of ‘imself.” (Steinbeck 72).

Even the person who cared about Lennie the most said and did awful things to him because he could, the mistreatment of people with mental disabilities should be addressed to students in a controlled manner with the correct information from one place so that all classrooms are aware of it. In 2015 The LA Times wrote “School board trustee Tom Hearn praised the decision, saying: "We need to trust the judgment of our English teachers...". Some schools have the ability to trust that teachers will teach in the right manner, but others aren’t as fortunate and lack accurate information and teachers are unaware of the need to add information and thought in addition to the book. Some teachers cannot be trusted to fully teach issues and corrections involved in Of Mice and Men since they aren’t all addressed in the book.

With the wrong context Of Mice and Men can leave students feeling discouraged without addressing the blatant racism, sexism, and lack of respect for people with mental disabilities so Of Mice and Men should not be taught in school. Comments throughout the book can be overlooked if teachers do not only point it out, but also explain how awful it was. The racism, sexism, and treatment of those with mental disabilities during that time needs to be taught in schools without Of Mice and Men and with a source that shows what happened and what people in the future have to do to correct it.