“Let’s Just Give All the Teachers Guns”
The caller’s name was “Mark” and I’ll admit that I was amused for a moment. Being a teacher myself, I briefly imagined the scenario: me with my big pregnant belly, rolling into my classroom with a nine millimeter tucked neatly into my purple-hued purse, right next to my lip gloss. It was silly. And completely, utterly ridiculous and inappropriate. But that was last Friday afternoon during a call-in radio show when emotions were raw, thoughts were racing, and my amusement was fleeting. There were more important things to think about.
I’ve had a week to think about things since the horrendousness that was Friday, December 14, 2012. As a teacher, mother-to-be, and generally concerned human being, I’ve been thinking.
And I’ve been thinking that we’ve completely lost our minds.
As a society and within our smaller cultural circles, we’ve lost it. I’ll use education – teachers specifically, since I am one – as an example to make my point here.
This past week, and in the coming weeks, we’ve heard about and will continue to tell the stories of the teachers who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary. We will be sad, because it IS sad and horrible. We will hear about how they selflessly gave of themselves every day, how they were good teachers, and how in a final act of bravery and protection, they died for their students that day. Much like the way one pebble affects an entire pond, teachers everywhere will, for a brief moment in time again, be hailed the guardians and educators and inspirers of children everywhere.
Yet, in a few months, when this piercing unbearable pain has faded to a dull ache, the same lips that sing our teacher’s praises today, will chant in protest outside of a school somewhere tomorrow – where perhaps one poorly trained, morally bankrupt teacher makes a bad decision and commits some indecent act. The same people, who championed the teachers in December, will condemn them in May – because one sullies it for the rest. The bad apple syndrome. Everyone will jump on board, herald the rally cry and join in the war song. No hero teachers then.
And, perhaps next year, or the year after, when towns or counties or states have placed education reform, or a new education budget on the ballot – the people who posted the memorials to their Facebook walls and praised the educators who perished during a national tragedy – will vote those budgets down and agree with all the media chatter about overpaid, underworked, lazy, entitled, ethically irresponsible teachers.
Do you see where I am going with this?
The answers we seek in these bewildering times do not solely rely on more or less guns, legislation, metal detectors or armed guards at schools, mental health awareness, or whether or not God is “allowed” in our schools anymore. It doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do with these issues if the most important factor has not been addressed: our collective attitude.
Everyone is now “searching for solutions,” and it makes sense because nothing else seems to make sense anymore.
Praising our teachers today and then tearing them down tomorrow is just one small, albeit (admittedly) reaching, example of how far we still have to go. It is just one example of a society trapped in hypocrisy. We can find more examples everywhere, if we just look around: religious freedom, gay marriage, women’s rights, the economy, and on and on – the hypocrisy is everywhere and our collective attitude is to jump on board with whatever feels good at the moment and then tear each other down in the next. This is a symptom of a bigger cultural problem I’m not going to get into here, but we have to know it exists. We have to feel it. Things are not right.
And now, just today, there’s this: Student arrested, guns found after Bucks Co school threat.
We need a serious, systematic change to our collective attitude and we need it now. Otherwise, anything legislated, funded, banned, or supported won’t matter, because nothing will have genuinely changed.*Post note: please don’t leave comments about how you are one of the few people who “loves teachers no matter what.” This post isn’t for you – and you’ve completely missed the point of the whole post.