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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?

  • The definite article isn’t missing from the title– that used to be an acceptable way of referring to the mentally challenged. Slowly, we’ve tried, in our language, to separate the individual from the disorder, impairment, etc. I remember seeing an old film of B.F. Skinner talking about behaviorism and referring to “retardeds” throughout. As in, “This is an effective treatment for retardeds.”

    Anyway, this book is in my university’s library– I might have to go check it out. I wonder if it’s merely offensive because of the use of out-dated language or if it’s just generally offensive.

  • I see that there is a lot of confusion about the title (sorry for posting again so soon). This used to be an accepted collective noun. “Retarded” is the object… this if the book were for deer: “Crafts for Deer” wouldn’t be confusing. We just don’t use the word like that any more.

  • Possibly best (worst?) find ever? Prove me wrong awful library books!

    Totally agree with JB’s comment.

  • Wow. Some of the comments here are worthy of your average YouTube entry!

    P.S. I heard somewhere that the swastika was used by buddhists or North American natives before the Nazis. Could just have been a rumour though.

  • Swastikas not originating with the Nazis? Holy crap! No offense, but I’m pretty sure that everyone who’s read a book knows that. The symbol was used by native Americans, early Christians, Buddhists, blah blah blah. Doesn’t mean it’s any less funny that a book about teaching “retards” is making them make Nazi drums. Buddhist drums would be much less funny. I know academics have a hard time not being pedants, but come on, lighten up – look at the crowd here. Just laugh and take a break from making everything into a teaching moment. We already know it.

  • Why in not one vocalising how stereotypical that it is and Indian TomTom. TomTom really? TomTom is a GPS Unit not a drum.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/manwomans/

    My favourite Swastika Crusader …

  • Oh, Justin: The upper class in England (eg. Mosley, even Harry‘s done it, oh, whoops, Afrika Korps, not the same eh?) often (oh, sorry, allegedly) dress up as Nazis, hell, one of them actually was one, you can always ask them how much fun it is, if you really must know …

  • I spent a memorable evening in a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, which had an interior of smoked bronze mirror tiles and a black swastika frieze. I was the only gweilo in the place, and the shaven headed monks and nuns kept giggling at me, and poking a head out of the kitchen servery to watch me use chopsticks. Disconcerting.

  • Well yes it is funny to our eyes. But I think it is a comedy of miscommunication through time. As has already been mentioned, the blurb suggests an attitude that is respectful and progressive for the time. Also the photo depicts a quite modern approach to learning through the pure tactility of materials (rather than imposing a viewer-pleasing design). Showcased on the cover, however, it conveys the unfortunate impression that the publishers had the attitude: “Blobs with holes.. about the best you can expect”. (An attitude we in turn are ready to attribute to those times).

  • When looking at disability history the nazi symbol is definitely a poor choice. It is not well publicized, but the nazi’s originated and practiced their holocaust techniques on people with disabilities before world war II started. These children that the book is aimed at would have been experimented upon and exterminated.

    A question I have is why do children with disabilities need their own craft book. Can’t they and their parents use any standard craft book?

  • I would agree on the tom tom part if I didn’t know better. That symbol means protection and I used ot see it all the time when I lived in a reservation in Arizona. its not a swastika.

  • lstar wrote: “Can’t they and their parents use any standard craft book?”

    When I was a kid, my school had EMR and TMR classes (Educable and Trainable Mentally Retarded, respectively) who would join the ‘normal’ classes once a week. All of these kids were lumped together and babysat by the teachers, all given the same unchallenging activities and talked to in what was little better than baby-talk.

    When I got older and learned the difference between some of these disabilities (for example, that cerebral palsy, unless very severe, doesn’t affect intelligence), I wondered how much harm had been done to some of these kids just by underestimating them — not only the kids with normal intelligence who were treated like idiots, but also the kids with developmental disabilities who were treated like babies.

    That’s probably the biggest difference in four and a half decades — these days there’s more of a push to focus on what people *can* do, rather than assuming and treating them like they’ll never amount to anything.

  • After reading the title, I think you’d have to be a retard to pick it up.

  • Finally, some crafts I can do!

  • There was a bit on PBS’s “History Detectives” recently about a Navajo rug that had what appeared to be swastikas woven into it; turns out the design is one of the most sacred symbols in the Navajo culture, symbolizing the four winds. It’s disappeared from Navajo artwork since World War II, for obvious reasons. Too bad that certain racists from Europe had to ruin the significance of this design for so many people.

  • Perhaps the swastika is an easy symbol for retarded people to draw. This would explain why Hitler chose it to begin with, right?



  • Wow – wrong on so many levels. LOL. Glad I found this blog through the dashboard. Bookmarked and I will be back 🙂

  • Starting to think that librarians have no sense of humor.

    Now I’m waiting for someone to reply telling me that the previous phrase should have been “senses of humor”

  • I think it’s a shame that libraries have space issues to consider and need to weed out books.

    While there’s a lot about this book which means it probably wouldn’t make it into print today I think that it’s incredibly important to know and understand what happened in the past. If I were an education professor I suspect I’d be delighted to find a book such as this in a library because it would be a great way of discussing developments in education and changes in educational theory. Education of any sort is not just about the most current philosophy: you need to understand where you’ve been first!

  • Can’t you post more of the craft pages so I can learn some of those new crafts? This is just for me.

  • this reminds me of a child rearing book I saw from the 1950s where the parent is advised to place a small saucepan under the childs bare bottom to catch their bowel movements and thus begin potty training at three months old. unbelievable. Now you know what’s wrong with your parents.

  • This is awesomely bad! I hereby nominate it for John Green’s “in my pants” fame. He has found that if you add “in my pants” to the end of ANY title, it becomes funny, but with this title ….instant classic! I mean, you’d have to be retarded not to see that……(*obvious sarcasm alert*)

  • The current PC term is “differently abled”, however I don’t introduce my brother to others as my “differently abled brother, G.” I just introduce him as he is: my brother G.

    Growing up in the ’70s, we took offense to the term “retard, retarded” because G WAS NOT. He has a neurological disorder since birth: Autism. People with Down’s Syndrome have a chromosomal defect. CP is severe birth tauma. All different. Yeah, delayed, but don’t use the term “them…retards”, and talk about these PEOPLE as if they’re mere trash. These are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers – cherished by family and friends. For the ones who toss the word “retard” around carelessly: there but for the Grace of God go you and yours.

    Thank You to Brenda and others who have shared insight to the struggle of our differently abled friends and those who agree outdated literature should be weeded.

  • swastika, swastika, swastika this book is old.

  • The comments were more entertaining than the post.

    Aside: Notice how progressively PC language also becomes more polysyllabic and less descriptive? From retard to mentally disabled to developmentally disabled to differently abled, we have gone from a term everyone understands to one only those already in the know understand. I once heard an interview on Fresh Air where the guest kept referring to himself as a cripple. When asked why, he replied quite simply, “Because I’m crippled. I can’t walk.”

  • What’s the post of this post? Were you trying to mock people with special needs while having a laugh at the same time? I just don’t get why you would even want to write about this.

  • I like how 8 million people over and over had to say that the swastikas were Native American in origin… just in case I couldn’t catch onto the first dozen or so comments.

  • Oh god, I have to admit that I about died laughing. I’m probably going to burn in hell now.

  • Never mind the swastikas, terminology, or even accuracy. Most books that old need to be weeded based on their condition. A book such as this has great value to an archive to demonstrate how things change over the years; however, libraries are not archives.

  • I don’t know what to say, having read all these replies. Most come off as either “enlightened” library PC police, or unenlightened “let me make a retard joke for y’all!” comedians. That’s pretty funny: have a laugh at the retards’ expense!

    And as for the symbol… Who made every librarian an art history major or anthropologist? If anyone has a problem with the generic symbol, DIRECT THEM TO A BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OK? I thought librarians were all about that, or at least they did in my librarying days.

    That said, I would think that the depth of a collection in this particular area would speak directly to keeping or weeding. If it is the only title you have, then it is time to expand and update.

    And, as someone with a mildly retarded brother, the title doesn’t offend me at all, so save the PC policing (arrogant) and the jokes (insensitive). I’d sure as hell rather have this book in a collection than no book at all.

  • It must really bug the author that the “For Dummies” people took his idea and ran with it.

  • While the title looks like the beginning for LOLspeak (without splng erraurs) the the bit about “Through Their Hands They Shall Learn” goes well with the swastika’d -out drum. Migawd!

  • …For some reason I recall seeing the symbol in association with Feng Shui references as well (this was a few years back).

    –Something to do with it meaning “good luck” when displayed properly.

    Oddly enough, this isn’t mentioned at all on wikipedia… o.O ‘



  • I have this book. Picked it up from a yard sale this summer. Some of th crafts look pretty difficult.

  • It’s funny! But I do appreciate “through their hands they will learn” — it’s how I learn!!!

  • Yes, swastikas have multiple origins and meanings all over the world; they’re a very basic design idea, straight lines are easy to carve or draw, and the angles imply energy or motion, whether it’s winds, sunbeams, or running legs.

    That said, though, it’s remarkably insensitive to use them in modern “western” cultures, and I’m glad to know major publishers wouldn’t print a picture like this now.

  • I don’t know whether this is the story John Gorman was remembering, but in John Varley’s SUPERHEROES (Ace Books, 1995), Dwight R. Decker’s “Origin Story,” an ancient German prospector is trying to find a new bearer for a mystic ring that grants its wearer the power to do good as Captain Swastika, complete with an automatically generated outfit you can’t modify….

  • Yup, that would be the one.

  • Not sure what pisses me off more–the PC idiots who are “offended” by this book & the word “retarded”, or that people automatically associate swasticas with Hitler. Native Americans had the swastika symbol LONG BEFORE HITLER EVER EXISTED. I have no problem with the swastika, the word “retarded”, or this book. It’s not slamming retarded people—and the fact that we can’t even SAY the word “retarded” without the effing PC police jump down your throat is RIDICULOUS. EVERYONE is SO offended by EVERYTHING–GET OVER IT, PEOPLE. Hell, I would be willing to bet money that the comments on here by all the “enlightened” people who are so “offended” by the book & the term “retarded” are from people who don’t even KNOW anyone who is.

    I grew up with a mentally retarded friend/neighbor—he had Down’s Syndrome–and even his family referred to him as being retarded. Like, even AFTER everyone else was going to great lengths to be politically correct, his family wasn’t going around saying, “He’s mentally challenged/differently abled” etc. or whatever other B.S. PC-correct term we’re supposed to be using TODAY. They just used the word “retarded” and it wasn’t any BFD to any of us.You know what? I bet that in another year, even the PC terms everyone is so careful to use TODAY are probably going to piss people off next year, so we’ll have to invent even MORE B.S. PC terms. “Retarded” isn’t meant to make fun of anyone—it’s just a descriptive word that’s in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that is exactly what it says it is—NO insult intended–and everyone needs to just get over themselves. You can’t even say “short”, “fat”, “bald”, etc.—now it’s gotta’ be “vertically challenged” or “follicularly challenged”, etc. Our society REALLY has to tone down the ridiculous false “offense” that they take of everything, especially when it’s something that doesn’t even APPLY to them.

    Merriam-Webster definition of retarded: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress

    It’s ACCURATE. What’s wrong with it? It’s descriptive—and that’s about all. NOT insulting. People–grow a thicker skin and stop pretending that everyone is out to “offend” you.

    All crap aside, this looks like a really nice book as far as arts & crafts things go. It DOESN’T belong in the weed pile. If anything, I want this book just to piss off the politically correct.