What Doesn't Belong in a Teacher's Desk: A Gun
You know what frightens me? Guns in our classrooms.
I'm just going to lay out some quotes from a NPR piece I read earlier this week, "These Colorado Teachers are Learning Gun Skills to Protect Students, They Say." I don't think there's much explanation needed...these statements say a lot by themselves.
- "Will arming teachers make schools safer?"
- "It's clear that educators here would like to consider themselves first responders -- stopping possible shooters and treating victims."
- "Do these educators, who normally work as caretakers, have the right mindset to kill a shooter? What if the shooter is a student?"
- In regards to teachers who carry in the classroom (I can't believe I just typed that): "What about when students, especially little students, ask for a hug?"
- "One teacher at the training says she just positions the gun so it doesn't interfere with students' hugs."
Read that last sentence again. Yep. You read it right.
The piece goes into further detail about weapons training that teachers are receiving in order to be first responder. Teachers, not cops. The same educators who are teaching our students how to collaborate and problem solve, how to read their first picture books, how to get along and take care of each other as human beings.
I have so many issues with this, I almost don't know where to start. My main fear has to do with the amount of accidents that happen in a classroom, just because of being outnumbered as a teacher, usually about 25-30 to 1. It's hard for a teacher or paraprofessional to have their eyes everywhere, all the time. As you have more experience as a teacher you learn to sense those accidents before they are an inkling of an idea in a kid's head, but they happen. A lot. It's a part of life and being human, especially with kids who are learning. It's part of our job as educators to keep that classroom environment as safe as possible, so our students stay safe and sound. And I don't know if that's what we are doing if we are keeping guns in our classrooms.
One of my friends had a gun accident in college that I'm reminded of after reading the quote above about the teacher positioning the gun so it doesn't interfere with student hugs.
I am a proud Clemson tiger. In South Carolina in the late 1990's, when I was an undergraduate student, we would frequently have cops roam the streets in the evenings, strolling from bar to restaurant, ensuring that there is no disorderly conduct, underage drinking, and that everyone is safe while letting their hair down after studying (hopefully) all week.
One of my girlfriends was out in the evening and saw one of the Clemson cops strolling through the second floor of the bar/restaurant she was in. She thought it would be funny to pretend to reach for his gun. I don't know all the details (either I've blocked them out or my memory is a bit fuzzy). But what I do remember is what you are most likely guessing: The gun went off, nobody was hurt, but it was quite a close call.
Accidents happen, even with those who are trained to be full-time first responders. And teachers are trained to educate our youth, not react to a shooting incident. That's a whole different ballgame.
So, guns in schools? Take those guns, pack them up, and get them away from our students. Not this teacher, not my kids.
Photo courtesy of Peretz Pertensky.