More Shootings and We Still Haven’t Learned

Posted on December 14, 2012 by Jeff Bloom

Yet another school shooting today, and this time young children, as well as adults.
Of course, we still think everyone should have guns, even though the 2nd Amendment was not intended to allow guns in everyone’s homes, but rather for state organized militia. We should remember that those were very different times.

But, the issue of gun control is somewhat secondary to what has been a recurring pattern in our schools. Fundamentally, our whole notion of dealing with children in and out of schools is really heartless, much in the same way Boehner and his colleagues want to treat our elder citizens. Kids and the elderly are just numbers and pawns in a game of money and politics.

If we really want to help children, we don’t need to “raise standards,” use more high stakes tests, implement “zero tolerance” (just another form of heartlessness), or set up a “Common Core” curriculum. None of these efforts really have anything to do with the welfare of children. If we really cared about our children, we would help teachers formulate approaches to develop relationships. Children need to learn how to appreciate one another, to value differences, to develop empathy, and negotiate solutions to particular problems. When I was in the classroom, the personal and social problems that arose always trumped whatever agenda I had for the day or the week. We’d drop everything and work on ways to communicate and appreciate one another. It’s all about developing deeply meaningful and empathic communities in schools. When kids feel appreciated, they don’t act out with violence. But, of course, adults don’t do a very good job of modeling relationships and community. Look at our congress and the way they treat each other and the way they propagate fear and hatred of other cultures.

What the people who develop educational policy don’t realize is that when children begin to feel good about themselves and each other, they learn more than we could ever imagine. But, maybe that’s the issue. Maybe the policy-makers don’t want our children to feel good about themselves and don’t want them to learn more than some meaningless content.


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