ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
The Giver: Kossor Education Newsletter.....Volume 4 Number 10
This report on The Giver is by Steven Kosser of The Kosser Education Newsletter. Steven is a Licensed Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist who is in private practice in Pennsylvania. He has debated William Spady and other top promoters of education "reform" and is available as a speaker nationally.
There is little more I can say to convince you of the caliber of Steven Kosser. In his profession as a school psychologist, his findings regarding The Giver should be heeded and heeded very very well.
As your brother in Christ, I beg you to do whatever you morally can to remove this book from the shelves of our schools. We are likely to pay dearly if we don't. We have enough influence by our culture to desensitize us to murder and governmental manipulations and to set the stage for moving into the village concept of general acceptance of whatever is dealt to us -- we do not need another book to help cultivate this cancer through our kids!
The Giver: Kossor Education Newsletter.....Volume 4 Number 10
The contents of The Kossor Education Newsletter are not to be construed as offering legal advice. Readers seeking legal advice should contact an attorney.
In December of 1995, I had occasion to review a book called The Giver by Lois Lowry, including what appears to be her handwritten note defending the book because she feels it "explores the importance of making courageous moral choices" ... "in a world that is fraught with danger [for children]." I have the following strong professional opinions about the content of this book and its probable psychological influence, especially on children under the age of 12 years.
Among other atrocities, The Giver portrays the father of its 12 year-old boy hero as the government-employed murderer of children (and others) in a starkly painted, brutal version of the familiar "totalitarian science fiction world of the future" that has been rendered so much more creatively and multi-dimensionally by George Orwell, Isaac Asimov and others.
Some reviewers think that this book is not appropriate for children under 12 years of age; I agree. Other reviewers think it's fine for eight year-olds. Nonsense. Any adult who thinks that this book is appropriate reading matter for an eight year-old should get training to enable them to recognize child abuse. There is no way that young children should be exposed to the patently negative, destructive images of parenting and the future contained in this morbid, depressing, nasty little book.
The Giver is the latest entry in a seemingly endless field of titillating-to-an-adolescent, gross pulp fiction that seems to have become the only genre fit to receive a Newberry award. Like Gary Paulsen's explicitly graphic description of the killing and sexual mutilation of a deer by a pack of wolves in his Newberry award-winning Woodsong, or the portrait of parents as impotent, self-absorbed beings incapable of caring for or protecting their children as depicted in Examination Day (another popular reading assignment given to children by pseudointellectual wannabe adults with teaching certificates), this book contains toxic imagery.
When young children take the imagery of The Giver into their minds, especially when the dosage is prescribed by an adult authority figure, the child is faced with a despicable choice: Prove that he or she is "tough enough, old enough and mature enough" to handle the disturbing imagery -- or publicly declare themselves to be a baby. Every child in his or her right mind will strive desperately to "prove" the former and deny the latter. The professional term for this state of having two opposing beliefs at the same time is cognitive dissonance. Research shows that human beings will do just about anything to escape from the feeling of cognitive dissonance -- by changing their perceptions of themselves and/or the world if necessary - anything to relieve the conflict.
By assigning reading matter containing depraved, distorted images of ersatz "reality" (especially when parents are the target of the distortion) to young children, teachers are creating an unavoidable state of cognitive dissonance in the minds of the children. Normal, healthy young children have strong loyalty to mom and dad; they want to see themselves and their parents as good people. When teachers force young children to experience depraved, distorted images of parents, it is emotionally harmful and psychologically abusive. I'll explain.
Normal, healthy parents try to shield their young children from the kinds of sick, distorted images of ersatz reality contained in books like The Giver. When the teacher tells Johnny that he's big enough, strong enough and old enough to handle the imagery in that book, and Johnny's parents disagree --who's Johnny going to agree with? That's cognitive dissonance in action (masquerading as "education"), driving a wedge between healthy parents and their young children, causing the kids t o draw closer emotionally to the non-parent.
Do you suppose that explains why so many pseudointellectual non-parents enjoy The Giver and why responsible parents object to it's being assigned reading to young children? There is no doubt in my mind that the cumulative effect of repeatedly representing parents as bungling, abusive, coercive or burdensome influences in the media AND in the reading assignments of children throughout their elementary and secondary education has had a pernicious and deleterious effect on adult-child (but especially parent-child) relationships and interactions. When adult-child interactions fail, child-peer interactions must fail also; the blind can not lead the blind.
Lois Lowry, Gary Paulsen and the other Newberry award winners will probably continue to collect awards for their adolescent efforts; pulp fiction and pandering to base, gross "reality" will always sell. The market for it will continue to grow as childhood continues to disappear. Some adults armed with gargantuan egos and teaching certificates will undoubtedly continue to dispense mental poison to children without jeopardizing their income or their freedom to "do what they want" to children in public schools in the name of education. Such people will have to answer for what they've done to children someday, of course, but in the mean-time, I hope that normal, healthy parents will continue to do their utmost to spare their young children the mental abuse that reading books like The Giver entails. Their older children probably won't get anything worthwhile out of The Giver either, but if they've read some good literature to compare it with, they may at least be able to critique The Giver intelligently.