Major Goals in Art Education For Children

What goals are likely to promote inquiry in art as a child? Art makes sense to children when they experience it as a basic form of expression and as a response to life. The two modes of experience-expression and response-are interdependent. Both are essential in the goals for personal fulfillment, for studies of the artistic heritage and for studies of the social aspects of art.

In order to find personal fulfillment through art, children need to learn how their lives can be enriched by their own efforts to create art and respond to visual forms.

Children enjoy manipulating art materials and even without guidance they may produce works that have expressive meaning. The activity and chance successes are poor measures of learning. If, as the saying goes, “one picture is worth a thousand words,” one truly creative experience in art is worth a thousand aimless experiments with art media. We may experience pride and inner strength that come from shaping forms that express something about ourselves, genuine self-expression is not easy.

Art has the potential for making feelings and ideas vivid; but to function expressively, an art form must be created so that it captures the precise feeling and imagery of our experience. Only then can art give substance to feelings that might otherwise remain undefinded, unclear, and unexplored. Few children are such natural artists that they can easily express themselves without a supportive environment. In order to achieve personal fulfillment through creating art, children need sensitive adult guidance in mastering the following pivotal moves in the artistic process: the creation of ideas for personal expression, the discovery of visual qualities to express ideas and feelings, and the use of media to convey an expressive intent.

In daily life, we ”look at” much more than we truly ”see,” “feel,” and “experience.” If we are sensitive to our aesthetic responses we realize that we are “moved” by something because our senses are fully activated. At such moments of realization, we experience a kind of insight so uncommon and so exact that we are in awe of our own powers of perception.

Art deals with human feelings, beliefs, and conduct. Studies in art-like those in the humanities-are loaded with implications about the ideal life and the values people hold. If we treat art as if it were only a matter of learning facts and mastering techniques, we deny its value-laden character. In the public schools of this country, subjects that center on human values are taught in a comparative manner. As teachers, we should clearly emphasize that art can also be understood and experienced in different ways

Learn to generate ideas for expression through art. Art does involve a struggle to find ideas and that varied sources in their experience can be tapped for inspiration. Children can learn to generate ideas by careful observation of their natural and constructed environment. Subjects are abundant-people, places, inanimate objects, plants, animals, weather, the seasons, and special events. Imagination is the ability to form images in the mind, especially of things, that are not ”real” in ordinary life. Fantastic, futuristic, weird, mysterious, and dreamlike events can be a source of inspiration for art. Contemplating themes can serve as a source of motivation for art. Children can learn to express their personal feelings about such concepts as love, peace, and beauty as well as hate, war, and ugliness.Inventing the necessity. Ideas can come from problems and needs to everyday life, such as wanting to make a present for someone special.

Your Kids Need Modern Teacher-Educators, Not Teacher-Dictators (10 Distinguishing Traits)

In a separate article, titled “Is Your Child Learning For School Or For Life?”, I explain why I believe every parent needs to emphasize for his/her child, the acquisition of knowledge/skills that will enhance the child’s ability to succeed in the real world, OVER mere academic ability.

The traditional educational institutions of old (which were mainly geared towards feeding industries with employees), had teachers concentrate on “moulding” learners to meet employers’ requirements.

Teaching methods were generally rigid and rote learning was emphasized – with dire consequences for learners who did not have the “stomach” for it. One notable example which proved the inefficacy of that approach was Albert Einstein, whose failure to demonstrate “learning” competently via memorization made teachers call him “dull-witted”. How ironic, considering that today, the same person is regarded as one of the greatest minds that ever lived.

Incidentally, Einstein did have a few things to say himself about the “Old School” teaching method. Reports have it that once, when asked the question “What is the speed of sound?” by a reporter, Einstein replied: “I don’t know. I don’t carry information in my mind that is readily available in books“. THAT answer in my opinion effectively makes the case for exploration/use of other learning methods outside rote memorization etc.

Some Of Today’s Teachers Still Use “Old School” Methods

Thankfully, over the years educationists gradually realised that the instincts of learners needed to be allowed to play a more influential/leading role in the learning process. Schools consequently adopted new approaches (like Montessori etc) which allowed children freedom to explore and learn by discovery, experimentation through play etc. This change in approach has generally resulted in more long lasting and qualitative learning experiences.

However, despite all the progress that has been made, and the awareness created/reforms adopted, some (presumably) modern day teachers with us today, continue to employ obsolete and inefficient teaching methods from the past in their classes. In the process, their learners are being short-changed on a daily basis.

The difference between old, traditional methods and the modern approaches being advocated has to do mainly with the style of teaching employed by the teacher. To put it another way, the type of teacher determines the type of teaching/learning situation that is created.

Differentiating Between A “Teacher-Educator” And A “Teacher-Dictator”

In my assessment, the foregoing make it important to identify the characteristics of the two main types of “teachers'” I have referred to. This is so as to guide parents/decision makers and even teachers to ensure the RIGHT teaching behaviour is employed at all times. This will ultimately help to create the right learning situation, thereby producing the desired learning output.

Below I offer bullet point descriptions of what I consider distinguishing attributes of the “Teacher-Dictator” (or Traditional Old School Style Teacher) as compared to those of the Modern Teacher who I like to call a “Teacher-Educator”.

Important: Please note that even though I have used these two broad categories/groupings of teacher “types”, in real-life there will be cases of individuals who exhibit traits from BOTH sides of the divide. What is essential is that a person involved in teaching in today’s world be encouraged, to strive to exhibit MORE “Teacher-Educator” traits. This “style” has greater potential to EMPOWER learners to derive life-long benefits from their formal learning experiences.

Acronyms: For convenience/ease of comparison, I have used an acronym to reprensent each teaching style, so that the contrasting traits can be reviewed side by side.

a. The Traditional/”Old School” Style Teacher(Teacher Dictator) = TOSST

b. The 21st Century or MODERN “Teacher-Educator” = MODTE

TOSST – Trait 1. Very often TELLS (but seldom SHOWS practically) the learner how to do something.

MODTE – Trait 1. Frequently helps the learner to “Learn By Discovery” (guiding by example as necessary). Encourages use of natural learning instincts.

TOSST – Trait 2. Is often more concerned about presenting him/herself as the final authority/source of knowledge to the learners.

MODTE – Trait 2. Typically offers him/herself as a guide/coach/mentor who will point out possible directions for the learner to follow on the path to self-discovery.

TOSST – Trait 3. Frequently inadvertently makes (or wants!) leaner to remain dependent on him/her.

MODTE – Trait 3. Will be “popular” for empowering learners to be independent in thinking/actions from him/her.

TOSST – Trait 4. Sometimes recycles teaching aids/materials used, to the point that learners sometimes correctly predict likely “content” to be delivered.

MODTE – Trait 4. Continually exploring new areas of thinking/development as they occur, with a view to discovering better ways to achieve the results desired by his/her learners. There’s always something new/refreshing to learn from him/her.

TOSST – Trait 5. Not inclined towards formal self-development efforts to improve his/her competence. Often feels what s/he already knows will always be more than enough for the learners.

MODTE – Trait 5. Vigorously pursues Self-Development opportunities to acquire new/useful additional KAS (i.e. Knowledge, Attitudes & Skills) to deliver better value to learners.

TOSST – Trait 6. Often more concerned about being part of a teacher-group, and expressing similar ideas to its members.

MODTE – Trait 6. Values his/her independence in deciding what to do to help the learners – even as s/he abides by set rules/seeks input from colleagues to improve quality of learning delivered. Places emphasis on freedom to express his/her own ideas/convictions, and pursue them.

TOSST – Trait 7. Often not comfortable with learners who demonstrate keen desire to explore beyond what s/he has taught or is prepared to teach.

MODTE – Trait 7. Derives great satisfaction from seeing learners demonstrate improved competence based on “discovered” learning achieved via self-directed efforts in their spare time.

TOSST – Trait 8. Tends to emphasise theoretical concepts and classroom based situations. Spares little thought for showing learners how the what they learn can be usefully applied in the real world.

MODTE – Trait 8. Keen to make learning real-world relevant. Helps learners relate knowledge acquired to its application in the real world (E.g. What can we use an understanding of compound interest for in life? How does the nitrogen cycle sustain aquatic life?). This way, learners are better prepared to apply their knowledge PROFITABLY to productive purposes in life.

TOSST – Trait 9. Generally believes that his/her job ends in the classroom and that whatever the learners do outside of it is unlikely to require his/her attention or action.

MODTE – Trait 9. Demonstrates passion for “educating” others around (colleagues, parents etc) about how they can contribute to improving the learning experience for his/her pupils/students etc.

TOSST – Trait 10. Products(learners) turned out often display undue penchant for “rote” learning, with seeming aversion for independent self-expression, and creative thinking.

MODTE – Trait 10.Products(learners) turned out tend to be creative, and independent-minded thinkers – often expressing original ideas with passion, and pursuing self-improvement with enthusiasm.

Summary

Decision makers in educational institutions – especially those engaged in provision of early education for young children – in my opinion need to ensure their teachers employ the “Teacher-Educator” style as frequently as possible, if not at all times. The benefits (outlined above) accruable to the children, and the school itself (in terms of quality of learning performances the kids deliver ) strongly suggest there is wisdom in doing this.

Parents will also want to regularly discuss “school/class work” with their kids and possibly make out time to interact with their kids’ teachers to get a feel for the teaching style favoured by the latter. If necessary, they could then gently request needed modifications in the teacher’s approach or work with the kids at home to make up for any shortcomings they identify.

What is most crucial is that learning experiences be made as pleasurable/rewarding as possible for our kids. When they find joy in learning, their desire to continually seek new learning as they grow into adulthood will never diminish. They will, as a result, be able to explore/discover their full potentials over time to the ultimate benefit of the larger society.

FINAL WORDS: It goes without saying that all I have advocated in the article is my personal opinion, and you would be well advised to seek the counsel of competent persons in deciding what line of action to pursue.

Defending Writers and Freedom of Expression Worldwide – International PEN

The International PEN has taken another step forward in its fight to protect writers. It called for ending insult and defamatory laws. Whilst celebrating the diversity and wealth of its’ members’ work it resolved to continue protecting and defending the freedom to write in all corners of the world.

The U.S. Government was in particular to take greater responsibility for the resulting upsurge in refugee writer escaping from the volatile situation for Iraqi writers, many being forced into hiding or exile and provide more for their protection and resettlement.

Central to PEN’s work is freedom of expression which it is vigorously pursuing as well as defending in all corners of the globe as reflected in 12 resolutions passed condemning the imprisonment of writers in China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, Cuba and Vietnam, killings of journalists in Mexico and Afghanistan and the forced closure of a television station in Venezuela. Throughout the year it has been defending Russian PEN from closure by the government, initiating dialogue for peace in the Middle East and assisting threatened writers to resettle in safer countries.

Two courageous writers, each of whom played a vibrant role in promoting free expression in their countries, Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian investigative journalist who was assassinated at her Moscow home in October and Hrant Dink, the Armenian Turkish editor working for reconciliation between the two communities who was killed at his office in Istanbul in January had their lives and works remembered. So too were other writers who have continued to be harassed and threatened due to opinions expressed in their writing. Notable amongst these was Salman Rushdie whose recent knighthood sparked a resurgence of threats on his life. Focus was given to Turkey as well where the issue of insult and defamation laws have been used to silent dissent.

Many Centres had since Anna Politskovkaya’s murder been protesting the killing of the special correspondent for Novaya Gazetta, who had been known and supported by the members of International PEN amongst many other socially-conscious groups for her pioneering reporting and in particular her commitment to the people of Chechnya. Unflinching in her narration of contemporary Russia. PEN members have been marking her death with remembrances including vigils, tributes and events. (see related article on her here)

The new International Secretary Norwegian writer Eugene Schoulgin in expressing his belief that International PEN has an extremely important role to play in the world today, pledged his ambition ‘to make its voice louder and clearer, to promote literature from every continent..

PEN’s advocacy for freedom to write has a long history from January 1932 when it launched an appeal to “All Governments,” concerning religious and political prisoners.. They protested about two Italian writers in prison, even though the Rome Center assured that the writers were there for their political activities not their writings.

Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany the same month that Galsworthy died, and soon afterward attained the power of dictator. Knowing that the writers of Germany posed the greatest threat of all to his authority propelled him into suppressing them and their writings. Many went on self-exile. The news of the persecution of the German intellectuals disturbed PEN. The German Center tried to soothe the London Committee, telling them not to believe “the alarmist views being put about,” but this time they stood their ground and demanded a statement on those who were reported to be in exile. As alarm grew the committee “met informally. They decided to consult the other centers by telegram, and inform the press on this. Then they issued a strong protest against the treatment of intellectuals by Hitler’s regime and came to the conclusion that ” if German PEN has been reconstructed in accordance with nationalistic ideas, it must be expelled.”

Then, still in 1933, came the Burning of the Books and the German Center failed to protest. Two weeks after that PEN held its congress in Dubrovnik. As The Manchester Guardian reported:

It is ironical that a meeting of writers pledged to stand aside from politics should have been the occasion of one of the stormiest of political demonstrations. The burning of books in Germany and the fact that the greater number of well-known German writers are living in exile cannot be ignored by an association which has always worked for the free interchange of ideas through literature.

Nearly four hundred persons representing twenty-six countries, were present, and it was inevitable that sooner or later the high tension generated by enforced restraint should end in an explosion.

Mr HG Wells, the new president who had just succeeded John Galsworthy, had the almost impossible task of keeping politics out of the discussion, of pacifying the more excitable delegates who were burning to attack the Hitler regime, and of seeing that the German delegates had fair play.

Henry Canby, the only American delegate, had come to the Congress with “a long and carefully worded resolution which reaffirmed the basic international principles of the P.E.N.” The atmosphere worsened when the German Center delegates arrived, clearly having been given their “intstructions:” .Henry Canby read the resolution which opened with a general statement of principle:

Whereas there are again abroad in the world aspects of chauvinism which debase the spirit of man, causing him to persecute his fellow men, robbing him of generosity, of nobility, and understanding; and whereas it is the duty of the artist to guard the spirit in its freedom, so that mankind shall not be prey to ignorance, to malice, and to fear, we… call upon all other centers to affirm once more those principles upon which the structure of this society was raised.

This resolution ended with an open attack on the German Center which had been removing from its membership all Jews, liberals, and writers of any kind who did not support the new German state:

The International Congress was called upon to take definite steps to prevent the individual centers of the P.E.N., founded for the purpose of fostering good will and understanding between the races and nations, from being used as weapons of propaganda in the defence of persecution inflicted in the name of chauvinism, racial prejudice and political ill will.

All centers were also implored to reaffirm the principles of the charter. Other delegates framed a more explicit resolution which the Germans refused to accept on the grounds that it was political. It was amended;. The German delegates stated that they would now support the motion on condition that there was no discussion. Mr Wells refused to bargain.

H. G. Wells chose the resolution from among many to present at the opening of the Congress. It passed unanimously, the German delegates voting with the rest.

Ernst Toller, a Jew, a radical, a former Communist, and also a very fine playwright, was one of the writers exiled from Germany. He had been invited to speak at the Congress and his name was on the agenda. The German delegation was determined that he should not be permitted to speak. Enst Toller’s appearance provoked enthusiastic applause, as he asked if he might speak after the resolution had been passed. The German delegation objected and when H.G. Wells upheld his right to speak, they withdrew their support for the resolution and walked out, leaving the meeting in uproar.

The Manchester Guardian’s correspondent ended his account: ‘It is the prevailing opinion that this year the PEN has entered upon a new phase. The gracious, astute, steadying presidency of John Galsworthy has given place to the highly stimulating but more provocative presidency of HG Wells.’

This blatant attempt to silence Toller was evidence of just how effective the Nazi movement was at infiltrating the ideals of those who belonged to an organization like P.E.N.. The Congress erupted into chaos. However, Wells, unruffled by the commotion, put the question of Toller to vote. Toller was permitted to speak by majority rule.

Toller’s speech, which was appropriately on the subject of fear, evoked both hissing and cheering, and the German delegates walked out.

PEN formally expelled the German Center at its next international meeting and turned its attention to the needs of the exiled German writers who were flocking to London. The committee organized parties. Humbert Woolfe, the poet, offered to look after those in distress. The refugees formed the first of PEN’s exile centers: The German-speaking Writers Abroad.The Austrian and Italian PENs were both in a state of upheaval. H.G. Wells was driven to emphasize PEN’s determination to champion freedom of literary expression. The committee wrote to the Italian Centre on this subject and about yet another Italian writer in prison. They protested to the German government on behalf of Ludwig Renn, also in prison.

As the thirties progressed and Europe seemed to be rejecting PEN’s ideals, HG Wells suggested launching a special fund for writers persecuted by their governments.Then in 1936 another blow fell as the Italian PEN announced itself solidly in favour of the Italian government and maintained that they were defending civilization and justice in Ethiopia. But as H. G. Wells, growing old, resigned, the decision on their expulsion was postponed.

In 1937 Arthur Koestler, in Spain on behalf of the News Chronicle, was arrested in Malaga and condemned to death. A hasty cable was sent to General Franco, appealing for Koestler’s release and bearing the names of some forty writers,including E.M Forster and Aldous Huxley. The protests worked and inJune 1937, Koestler wrote to PEN:

Arriving in London after more than three months imprisonment in Seville, I want to express my deep gratitude for the unstinted help your organisation gave in obtaining my release. I am fully aware that it was no personal merit of my own, but in the deeper interests of the free expression of opinion, which is the life-blood of democracy and humanity that this help was given.That a free public opinion should have thus proved so strong is as much to me as my own personal liberty.

The next congress held in Prague. had the treatment of the Jews in Poland and the war between Japan and China on the agenda. Japan was to be asked to spare China’s cultural monuments and universities. In London they were collecting money for Austrian and Czechoslovakian writers, sending food parcels to those in Catalonia.

In 1938 Storm Jameson became the first woman president and had immediately to protest to Italian PEN. as their Bulletin had contained a poem glorifying the exploits of Italy in destroying the Abyssinians, who were described as ‘black ants.’ Her letter received no reply.

Soon after the outbreak of war, the Home Office appointed PEN as an adviser on internees and, led by Storm Jameson, the committee worked hard to provide the information needed to obtain the release of the German writers, establishing their identities and proving that they were not spies or members of the fifth column who wished to claim release under CAT 20 to write to the Secretary of PEN.

The next Congress took place in the last days before World War II with its basic rationale being “the necessity of reaffirming the right to speak and to differ in a world where it seemed to be vanishing.”

There were many exiled writers at the Congress of 1939, such as Ernst Toller and Thomas Mann of Germany. These and other writers like Jules Romains, the International President of P.E.N, spoke eloquently on the tyranny that existed then in Europe versus the freedom of the human spirit. These speeches were broadcast over the radio

After the war, refugee writers in distress abounded and the funds ran out.. In the late forties appeals and protests were being sent to the Greek government which was ill-treating its writers. Chile was asked to allow the poet, Pablo Neruda, to leave the country. In 1950 a protest was made to Iran, where the political prisoners were enduring great hardship.

During the 1950s an Hungarian writer, Paul Labori, joined the English Centre and suggested an International Writers in Prison Committee to investigate the cases of writers imprisoned solely for their writings and opinions and to co-ordinate the actions of the centres. The Committee was formed in 1960 .

Amnesty International was not founded until the following year.

There was, however, a bitter conflict that arose at this Congress regarding the Hungarian P.E.N. Center. The Hungarians had been in the forefront of the uprising against Communist rule in October 1956. When this revolt failed, the Austrian P.E.N. Center in Vienna found itself struggling with the pouring in of refugees. The American Center sent twelve hundred dollars to Vienna to help the Hungarians there to find food and shelter. Some Hungarian writers got to the United States and work was found for them through various sponsoring organizations. The American Center sent a letter to each refugee to learn of his or her individual special needs through a small grant from the Fairfield Foundation.

When Tibor Dry, a Hungarian novelist who resisted both the Nazis and the Communists, was sentenced to prison along with twenty-three others, the Hungarian P.E.N. Center made no protest. A resolution was on the agenda which stated that the Hungarian Center had violated the P.E.N. Charter by “its tacit support of the current regime and should be suspended.” The President of the Hungarian Center had written a three-page justification of its positiom..Meanwhile, the International P.E.N. had continued to struggle for the release of Tibor D ry and Julius Hay, keeping up a constant pressure. In 1959, the American Center issued its own “call to conscience:” an open letter to the Hungarian government with 259 signatures. This letter was forwarded in December, 1959, to the United States delegate at the United Nations, and it received very wide publicity abroad. Not only was there no answer from Hungary, but the Hungarian government clearly stated that the P.E.N. would do well not to push for the release of prisoners.

In 1960, however, news came that Dry and Hay were released. The Hungarian Center and its new president were permitted to attend the Congress that year in Rio de Janeiro.The Congress in Rio de Janeiro set up a permanent Writers in Prison Committee. It also passed a manifesto urging that released writers be permitted to return to work, as part of a general effort “to re-establish the freedom of writing wherever it is suppressed.” Elmer Rice who cared so much about the subject. was the delegate to this Congress. Back in 1958, Rice was elected unanimously and with great enthusiasm to become a Vice President of International P.E.N., the first time for an American to hold that post

One of the basic principles of P.E.N.is that writers should never be judged by the activity of their governments,. So PEN worked relentlessly with the State Department.so that in June of 1965, they were officially informed that the Department would not object to the participation of a Cuban delegation at the Congress.There had been concern that the Cuban Center would be refused entry since it was a Communist country and a deeply mistrusted enemy ever since the Cuban missile crisis..An invitation went out to the Cuban Center in the normal way, with a second invitation sent to its President the same day. No reply was received in either case..

At the Congress, the American Center sponsored a resolution which was passed unanimously. It put the P.E.N. on record as disapproving of “measures taken by any government which have the effect of preventing P.E.N. members from leaving their own country or entering a foreign country” in order to attend a P.E.N. meeting. The free movement of writers could sometimes be as important as the movement of free books, and with each victory came the greater possibility of subsequent ones.

The international tone of the New York Congress was largely due to Arthur Miller being the International President. He understood what the P.E.N. stood for, and he emphasized a vital point in his opening address on June 13th: “None of us comes here as a representative of his country. None of us is obliged to speak here as an apologist for his culture or his political system.”

The Congress of 1966 put the P.E.N. charter into action: “the unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations.” The whole ideology of the P.E.N. rested on this, as was later demonstrated in an incident involving Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican novelist who had been invited as an observer to the Congress. Fuentes was both shocked and impressed by what he saw there: “the improbable spectacle of 500 writers~conservatives, anarchists, communists, liberals, socialists~meeting, not to underline their differences or to enunciate their dogmas, but to….bear witness to the existence of a community of the spirit while accepting the diversity of intentions.” In 1969, Fuentes was at first denied permission to enter the United States because his name was on a list of foreigners who were considered “undesirable.” The American Center protested immediately to the State Department; Fuentes sent his “profound gratitude,” noting that “once more P.E.N. has proved its immense value as an active force in defense of the freedom of writers.”

When Boll turned to the subject of the struggle to free writers from prison, he could only advise P.E.N. never to be discouraged. One of the most constructive acts of the past year had been the establishment of an emergency fund by the Dutch Center to be used for both the families of writers in prison and the writers themselves if censorship had taken away their livelihood. Individuals and Centers make donations to this fund.

P.E.N.’s devotion to the struggle to free writers from prison continued unabated into the Seventies and Eighties, with the Freedom to Write program as one of its prime examples. The committee included Edward Albee, Allen Ginsberg, Arthur Miller, Bernard Malamud, and Ken McCormick. This Committee was responsible for investigating cases of imprisoned writers in many different countries around the world, including Chile, Czechoslovakia, Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Taiwan, South Africa, Turkey, the USSR, and virtually anywhere else on the planet where writers were incarcerated. P.E.N. would then protest these cases along with other human rights organizations.. For example, an inquiry from the American Center went out to the Dutch P.E.N. Center on September 28, 1976, concerning a Dutch journalist Peter Custers, who was imprisoned in Bangladesh. He was released shortly afterwards. On October 7, 1976, a letter was sent by the American Center to the U.N. Mission, congratulating the Bangladesh government on the release of Custers and requesting information on the status of other writers imprisoned in Bangladesh. A similar approach was taken with all other cases, and it was partly due to P.E.N.’s aggressive and relentless pursuit of each individual case which resulted in the release of many prisoners.

P.E.N. during the same time implemented its Prison Writing Program. Each year, P.E.N. accepted and reviewed original writing entries from convicted prisoners in various genres and categories. P.E.N. would then award first prize, second prize, and two honorable mentions to entrants in each category. This program was aimed at recognizing and fostering the creative urge in individuals typically cut off and shunned from society. It was also meant as a vehicle for rehabilitation.

P.E.N. always had been, and remains deeply interested in the subject of censorship. In the Seventies and Eighties, the repression of writers’ freedom of speech was going on everywhere in the world, and P.E.N. was deeply involved in these domestic problems as it was overseas. P.E.N. kept close watch on individual cases of harassment across the United States. One good example is its involvement in the protection of the underground press when it was being politically harassed in the Seventies. The American Center kept track of scores of cases of small struggling newspapers which were continually threatened out of existence by the government. At the hub of all this was Allen Ginsberg, who did much to keep the fight going for the underground press.

One of the largest, most publicized, censorship struggles P.E.N. faced was the 1981 case of Island Trees Union Free School District Board of Education versus Steven A. Pico, a student. Pico and four other students, with their parents, charged that the Board had violated their constitutional rights by “improperly removing” from its school library shelves nine books, which personally offended the Board’s sensibilities. Four of these nine books were authored by P.E.N. members: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud; Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas; and A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich by Alice Childress. The other five works were A Reader for Writers, edited by Jerome Archer; The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris; Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, edited by Langston Hughes; Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver; and Go Ask Alice by an anonymous author. Unfortunately for P.E.N., the Board was upheld by Judge George C. Pratt of U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York in Westbury, Long Island, stating that, although it could be construed as a “misguided” educational decision, the Board did not directly violate the First Amendment, and that the board of any educational institution had a responsibility to uphold the values and morals of the community in which it was based

Sources:

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/155

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/155

http://www.englishpen.org/aboutenglishpen/history

Related Article:

http://ezinearticles.com/?International-Pen—Its-Creation-And-Development-To-Bring-The-Worlds-Culture-Under-One-Umbrella&id=872702