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Crafts for (the) retarded?


Crafts for Retarded: Through their hands they shall learn

Some librarian spies from the west sent along this wonderful title to ALB.  I am not quite sure of the craft on the front, but the spies sent along a page featuring  this ultra cool Indian tom-tom craft.  A quote from the cover blurb: “This book is written primarily for teachers and for parents whose youngsters have come into the world with less potential than the so-called ‘average’ child.”  Submitters say: “What better way to raise a child’s potential than by teaching him or her to stretch a goat skin to make a drum, then paint swastikas on it?”









100 Responses to Crafts for (the) retarded?

  • w-o-w. Dare I say this is the most awful book yet?

  • Definitely one to weed, but I would like to remind folks that the symbol didn’t originate with the Nazis, and was used by several Native American groups. 🙂

    *cue “the more you know” graphics and music* 😉

  • In all fairness to the book, swastikas in that position are a symbol of peace. The Nazis corrupted it by rotating it and using it for another purpose.

    That said, nowadays this is an insulting book. It was progressive for its time, but now it is completely useless.

  • I’m going to have to agree with Cass. Yikes.

  • Swastika *does* have its roots in (what we today refer as) Indian culture. Too bad the Nazi’s made a mess of the symbol in the interwar period. This does not, however, explain why the authro(s) of this 1960s book chose to make it an example of disabled art. I am intrigued.

  • Good lord. There are no words.

  • well it’s not being used as a Nazi symbol in this instance….but paradoxically…the idiot who drew the image…must have confused Native American with Indian..the Sanskrit svastika symbol dates from the Neolithic period and denotes good luck.

    So, in my mind it’s much more ridiculous than if it were indeed an Nazi’s emblem.

  • The symbol that most people recognize as the swastika predates the Nazis by quite a lot.

    But there’s still a lot wrong with this book. 😛

  • It’s probably worth mentioning that the swastika was a Buddhist and American Indian symbol long before the Nazis appropriated it.

  • It was a Hopi and Navajo symbol long before it was a Nazi symbol. Still, off for a book from 1964 to be using it.

  • We just found this in our library last week!!!! We find it irresistibly bad

  • Fun fact, though – the traditional Buddhist / American Indian swastika should be going counter-clockwise; the nazi symbol goes clockwise. Guess which is in the book?

  • Running Wheel symbology in Canadian First Nations art can go clockwise or counter-clockwise (this symbol has no other use up here that I know of). It is still used here in Canada by some tribal groups and both “directions” are seen.

    Given that Canadian and U.S. First Nations groups inter-mingled a great deal before Europeans arrived on the continent (and still do to a lesser extent), I would not be surprised if both “directions” were also seen in the U.S.

  • Best book ever.

    GeekChic is totally right. I saw an episode of History Detectives where they tracked down the origin of a Navajo blanket which featured the Running Wheel going both ways.. the direction really has no meaning to its context. Probably more that its on an Indian drum and not a Nazi uniform, you know.. because dressing up the handicapped as fascists would be the most fun past-time ever.

  • Ignoring the swastikas completely I would think the word “retarded” alone would make it ready for the weed pile. I thought we were suppose to use “mentally disabled/handicapped” now. Or is there yet another PC term I don’t know about?

  • I remember reading somewhere a rather funny tongue in cheek “superhero story”. This now retired superhero had a ring that apparently was given to him by an “Indian Spirit” and he kept trying to pass it on. The issue? The symbol that kept appearing in all the costumes? Something that resembled the swastika. He couldn’t find anyone willing to become a superhero if it meant wearing that on their chest. An interesting little story on a clash of symbols.

  • Wow.

  • I don’t see enough here to object to. The title is perhaps objectionable now, unless you think for maybe half a second and realize it is not meant to be insulting given the date of the book and in that light not insulting now.

    Is making a drum not a fun activity? I don’t see anybody objecting to showing the target audience how to make a drum. The submitters, whoever they may be, simply object to a common motif again mistaken as to its meaning.

    Is there something in the book that is actually bad?

    • tuzda, I’m one of the co-submitters. We’re a medium-to-large academic library, and we support education programs, one at the graduate level, at three colleges/universities. Were you an education professor, what would you think if you found this on the shelf of a supposedly current academic collection? Has research and information on special needs education really not changed in the past 45 years? The word “retarded” in the title alone is enough to delegate this to the weed pile. Period. It goes deeper than political correctness; while there’s nothing wrong with the drum activity, the swastika issue aside, there is little in the book, by modern educational standards, that would be very useful to developmentally challenged students. I don’t mean any disrespect to the author by saying this, and I’m not an expert in special education, but it *is* a 45-year-old book, and I am embarrassed that it’s on the shelves.

      • Yay, the first sensible post to focus on the real issue here. Granted it is a product of its time but that is precisely why it has no place on the shelf today. Being the godparent of a child with special needs I would be insulted if this was in a contemporary teacher education library.

  • The swastikas as found on the can is an Indian symbol. Nazi’s modified it to make it their own. Indian swastika is not rotated like the Nazis’. Some general knowledge would help you see things.

  • Hey, has anyone mentioned that the swastika predates Nazi Germany’s usage of the symbol? I sure hope I’m the first to notice that!
    ** doesn’t bother reading any other comments **

  • This is an interesting website with some swastika pictures in different contexts.

  • This is an interesting website with some swastika pictures in different contexts.


    (forgive me here is the site)

  • We had this book in the library when I did my textiles diploma. The first time we found it on the shelf we got a good laugh out of it, the title being obviously incredibly dated (not to mention the odd syntax). But despite the cover image of the “poke finger in ball of clay craft” the activities inside are what you’d find in any old book of fun crafts for kids of all ages.

  • This could be a very useful book for a parent or teacher of the disabled. What’s the problem? You don’t like the outdated terminology?

  • OMG… we actually weeded this from our library several years ago.

  • WOW! Speechless…

  • Just a relic from a less enlightened time – too depressing to look at again.

  • Tudza

    If the title doesn’t seem objectionable to you, you should be the one to explain that to a parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

    Go ahead

  • Tudza

    If you seriously think the title is not objectionable, I’d love to be there when you try to explain that to a parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

  • I’m always amazed on this blog that no matter how obviously outdated and useless a book may be for library patrons, some commenter will argue for its retention.

    The less-than-PC terminology and the awkward choice of artistic motif aside, a book on crafts this old is often useless if only because the materials called for are no longer readily available. Nail keg, anyone?

  • Wow, how awful, get rid of it. It doesn’t matter if the crafts in it are still fun activities for kids. There are a million more recent books that have the same type of activities but without the objectionable art and language, and hopefully with better grammar in the title (“crafts for retarded WHAT?”)

  • Ah, c’mon Brian! Lots of us have nail kegs! I keep mine in the bin next tro my butter churn and floppy disks.

  • it is the worst book title I have ever seen.

  • You morons, it is of Indian (as in India) origin, and dates fr0m Neolithic times. Your need to find “awful” books has led to some pretty embarrassing entries, like this one. Try again.

  • This is clearly an outdated book. Considering that WWII was fresh in the memories of most people in the 60s, the authors at least should have explained why they would use a symbol so close to swastika.

    The use of the word “retarded”, however, is only un-PC in our present. Even in the 70s, it was a perfectly acceptable term that literally means “slowed”. It has since been stigmatized, and would now be ridiculous to use in a book title, but in its time, it was no worse than the so-called PC words we use now.

  • Very entertaining!!!!! Keep it up

  • Wow, the title alone is quite a cliff-hanger.

  • Jim, read the other comments, people have ALREADY stated that MULTIPLE times. The book is awful because of the TITLE and also because many of the materials NO LONGER EXIST. Geez. Some people need to learn to pull their heads out of their tuckus and learn to read.

  • I’ve just met this blog so walking in I had no idea what was going on….I just got excited by the title “Crafts for the Retarded” and thought….hmmm….something fun to make?

    Thanks for the giggle!

  • The title is retarded: it needs an object (“Crafts for Retarded Children” for example) or it needs to turn the adjective into a noun (“Crafts for the Retarded” for example). As it is, the syntax is incredibly awkward…

  • I have seen an older edition of a Kipling book that had that symbol embossed on its cover.

  • I concur with so many who have posted here that this symbol was used by the Navaho long before it was corrupted. I’ve seen it on baby spoons. We could debate for days whether a symbol carries some poison of it’s own or whether it’s context is the more significant consideration. I don’t know. I personally love Navaho art, and yet this symbol has certainly been colored by it’s unfortunate past.

  • what could possibly be objectionable about the term ‘retarded’ being used to denote someone w/cognitive impairment? retarded just means DELAYED, held back…it’s only because people started using ‘retard’ as an insult that it became a bad word.

    the same will happen to ‘developementally disabled’ when folks start calling them ‘deevies’ or whatever.

  • While I am challenged by the possibility of this book being on the shelves today for all the reasons mentioned, I would like to point out this phrase:

    whose youngsters have come into the world with less potential than the so-called ‘average’ child.”

    The quotes around the word “average” are actually very progressive for the time of the book’s writing.

    As an alternative to the then-current rubber room approach to education of folks with differing intellectual capacity, this book may have been the work of someone who could actually see real opportunity where others would see none.

  • hahaha ohhh man this blog made me laugh so much. great start to the day.

  • (It is in the Nazi direction, not the Indian one, but still a legitimate Native American symbol.)

    Well, they are trying…. Remember, this is all before “PC.”

  • Is it just me, or does anyone else not see the problem with this title?

    Clearly the “swastika” is the (non-nazi) Indian symbol of peace. And don’t mentally retarded people also deserve a craft book? There are literally dozens – if not hundreds – out there for normal people.

    Lighten up!

    • It still wouldn’t fix the problem of many of the materials in the craft project no longer existing.

      • I hope I don’t sound too churlish when I suggest that the materials can be substituted with modern equivalents, and no one will know. They’re retarded, remember?

      • Teddy, I know that, but that’s if you own the book. A library needs as much shelf room as possible. Therefore from a library it needs to be weeded. But if they have a Friends Of The Library who’ll sell it, then someone else can make use of it.