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Education and Free Expression

Wide open door with light.The following is a personal reflection contributed by Lu Ann McNabb, who currently serves as Policy and Alliances Associate for NCTE.

As I set to work organizing the details for Advocacy Day, I couldn’t help but think of what happened to the staff at Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris and the implications of that event for our work as educators.

As many English teachers and faculty know, satire and cartoons are critical educational tools. They upend our way of thinking by removing us from our comfort zone and presenting a different way of thinking.

I believe that what happened in Paris was an attempt, through violent means, to suppress thought and expression and destroy those who would challenge us to see the world through a different lens.

Too often throughout history and even in many parts of the world today, we have seen individuals and organizations deny or prevent others, through intimidation or neglect, the right to think differently. Yet, somehow the human spirit is resilient and will find whatever means necessary to learn.

Teachers have a noble calling, as do journalists, artists, cartoonists and editors. They educate all of us: youth and adults. They inspire us to question and challenge. Although Paris is on the other side of the ocean, what happened there impacted all of us. If we want an educated world, then we cannot succumb to violence, but must keep writing, drawing, reading, and teaching. After all, that is what we must do if we want the young people we educate to appreciate the beauty and subtlety of artistic expression and seek to create, rather than destroy.