Glitter – Not Guns – in Classrooms

by Jo on December 20, 2012

Photo courtesy Morguefile.com

On any given day, the average school teacher can and will spot at least half a dozen potential dangers lurking around her classroom and on  campus. Rogue staples, scissors pointing in the wrong direction, untied laces threatening to bring a game of tag to a teary end. These are the normal hazards we are prepared to identify and tackle in our continuing efforts to keep your precious children safe.

It’s all part of the job, you might say.

Having to face a gunman as he violently tears his way through campus?

Not even close.

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, as we all struggle to come to grips with the devastating reality of what transpired just a few short days ago, a lot of discussions continue to take place about possible motives behind the shootings, details of lives that were lost, and where do we, as a nation go from here.

At the very top of the list of these emotional conversations is how we can keep our children safe and prevent further atrocities like this one from happening again.

It’s a question that doesn’t come with one single answer, though some believe they’ve come pretty close to finding a way to protect our kids by encouraging their states and school districts to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.

I feel I must speak up – both as an educator and as a parent – and proclaim that this idea may look shiny and simple on the outside, but on the inside it’s rife with potentially negative lasting consequences to students, teachers, administrators and parents.

I get it guys, I do. We want a solution and we want it now. We don’t want any more innocent lives lost at the hands of a maniac wielding a weapon. We want to protect and defend our nation’s children and give them their schools back; schools that are filled with laughter and the daily grind of math and reading, not anxiety and fear that tragedy may strike at any moment.

But children are easily influenced by the actions and emotions of the adults around them, and we must tread carefully and responsibly as individuals and as a society when dealing with the aftermath of a situation such as this one. There is a fine line between protecting our children and perpetuating paranoia in the hearts and minds of our little ones.

Guns – concealed or otherwise – have no place in a classroom, and arming our teachers would be a knee-jerk reaction made out of desperation and anger.

And if you believe that desperate times call for desperate measures, then know a gun in the hands of an educator will not bring us any closer to resolving the ever present and increasingly disturbing trend of violence in this country.

Our teachers should not be forced into combat, and until we have exhausted all of our resources and energies towards eradicating the root causes and underlying issues that set the stage for tragedies such as the one that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, someday even guns will no longer be enough to secure the safety of our children and we will once again look to something bigger, something more destructive, something even more deadly to fight the bad guys with.

Guns in classrooms?

It won’t work.

Which means we have a lot of work ahead of us.

But that work doesn’t involve passing out handguns during staff meetings and training science teachers how to properly load bullets into a chamber.

Let me also remind you, that teachers are human too, and there’s the potential for a rotten apple in every bunch. The last person I would want to see with access to a gun in the classroom would be a teacher my special needs son had several years ago, who started off the year with a smile and ended it with a certifiable emotional breakdown that forced her to transfer to another position at another campus. I’m not saying she would have or could have have hurt anyone, but I am saying that a gun in the wrong hands – regardless of whether or not that person is a man off the street or an educator in the classroom – is a gun in the wrong hands and the consequences of either would be equally devastating.

I want my classroom filled with the innocent giggles of my students as I read them a silly story and their unmistakable groans of protest as they’re forced to put away their free centers in exchange for some good old fashioned flashcard practice. I want my shelves lined with Dr. Seuss books and my carpets covered in glue and glitter.

A gun just wouldn’t have a place there, among the sacred space that is school, and the false sense of security that it would provide for some, isn’t worth placing it into the hands of someone trained to mold young minds and inspire young hearts and expect her to fire a deadly weapon should the need arise.

America, we can – and should – do better than that.
Our kids – and our teachers – deserve it.

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pattee December 20, 2012 at 2:34 am

I agree completely. It seems to me that there are some obvious lapses in the thought processes of people who want to arm teachers.

First, do teachers even want the responsibility and the risks involved in carrying a gun, particularly in a classroom full of children? Some may but not all of them, in fact, I’m guessing many would not. Carrying a gun is a huge personal responsibility. Teachers have enough on their plate.

Two, while there are many fantastic teachers, most people can look back at their school years and name at least one or two (if not more) who it was questionable if they should teach, let alone be armed. Not bashing teachers, its a fair statement in any field.

Three, how would the challenge of keeping the gun accessible for the teacher to drop an armed homicidal maniac at the first sign of trouble like said teacher is a trained SWAT team member while at the same time ensuring that this available and ever present firearm could never be accessed by curious or frustrated students? If the gun is safely stored unloaded and locked up, is there time to get it and load it or is it the expectation that teachers wear them holstered on their persons like gunslingers?

Arming teachers or school staff is just an all around bad idea. I would never feel safe dropping my children off in such an environment.

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MReddy December 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Agreed. Iwas a culinary instructor in an after-school program on Chicago’s South Side, known for its gun violence and gang strife. I try to imagine keeping my wits about me enough amidst an important lesson on knife skills or while handling hot caramel or pulling something out of a 400-degree oven, and then being able to whip out a handgun or other automatic weapon and use it correctly and safely in a sudden crisis, and I can’t even visualize it. And I have two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and a culinary degree. I consider that to be a pretty decent education, but nowhere near what I’d need to know to properly use a gun in a crisis situation. And as Patee said above, I’ve had my fair share of teachers who shouldn’t have been manning a film projector, much less be wielding a gun, so let’s leave it at glitter, glue, and gum under the desk and work on the root of the problem, not throwing more fuel on the flame. Thanks again, Jo. Every time you post, you make my day!

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SBKaren December 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm

No, No and NO again. Teachers should not have guns. I am an educator and I don’t like guns in the first place. Making me have one in my classroom goes against everything I stand for. I wouldn’t use it, even if trained. NO – and I will say here, this is the silliest resolution I have ever heard. It is just not well thought out at all. NO! Can I say it again……..NOOOOOOOO!

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Kahli December 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

So well stated all the way around, as usual!

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Kahli December 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I’m a parent and the spouse of a high school teacher. I seriously hope that ppl are listening to you! I abhorr the idea of my husband taking a gun to school, and even to a higher degree when I imagine my 1st grader’s teacher having 1 in her classroom. It seems so intuitive that this isn’t the answer but apparently everyone doesn’t see it that way. Sadly….

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Sheri Berman December 30, 2012 at 3:56 am

Thank you so much for saying what I have been thinking. Putting guns in the hands of teachers, or anyone else for that matter with the faith that every single person chosen to carry a gun is above a break down, or violence, or vengeful action is so naive. Once upon a time we were led to believe that ALL policemen are good and will help you. Given the right circumstance, given the right amount of pain, it is impossible to predict how a human being will react. When we lived on a Navy base, my daughter who was 13 at the time insisted that it was safe for her to walk around the base alone at night, because after all, it was a Navy base. Why? because ALL the people in the military will protect us? Being naive as a child is understandable. But as adults, if we want to be safe, and keep our children safe, we must not be naive. We must be discerning and careful.

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