Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Teachers with Guns

Classes have begun in a school where teachers are allowed to carry guns. As some may have read about a few months ago, a small Texas School District has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons beginning this school year (Reuters reported on this in August of this year). 
The Texas School District justified their actions by saying that they were keeping the school safe and further that this was all "common sense," and parents didn't question them. I'd like to think that for most Americans this isn't common sense. 
After my initial shock and horror upon hearing about this,  a lot of questions came up. What have our schools become if this is allowed? What have we made of the teaching profession? And dare I ask, are teacher education programs in Texas going to start a course in weapon training? While for now this is an isolated issue, it has made international headlines, and all over the world there have been instances of school violence from disgruntled students.

If we look to Hegel, Herbart, Dewey and others, we can envision the school as in some way a place for expanding the learner's horizon of thought and experience beyond the immediate realm of their private sphere. 

Perhaps one might argue that a certain amount of safety is needed to enact this vision. But what kind of agreement are we asking students to enter into when they have to come to school all the while knowing that the authority figures may have guns? The threat to stop whispering to your friend in the back of the class, or not to criticize your teacher's beliefs becomes that much more serious when the teacher says, "stop acting up (and by the way I have a gun!)".

1 comment:

Susan Laird said...

My state also faced a legislative proposal to allow guns in schools and on campuses. Fortunately, the leaders of those institutions spoke out strongly against the proposal.

Things like this point up a certain lack of imagination--NOT imagining all the likely situations that might occur to make the proposal more deadly and repressive than protective as intended. The thought experiment is a skill that should be taught more widely, not just to undergraduates in philosophy classes.