As a teacher, I am often looking for some way to connect the classroom to the news and world events. It’s especially useful when something in the news is strongly connected to the reading and my students feel an urge to talk about the issues presented by the event.
Last week, that happened again.
As the news of the mass shooting in California filled the pages of our local newspapers, and my students tried to make sense of the violence and misery that filled each story of describing how a man and his wife chose to somewhat randomly murder 14 people, I asked them a simple question. “What can we do as a society to stop this? What should we do?
At first, the class was quiet as each of the students tried to translate the ideas and images in their heads and come up with a reasoned response. The room was quiet for a few seconds and we all looked at each other. And then, as often happens, one of the girls spoke up. “It’s the guns,” she said. “There are too many and they’re too easy to get.” That was all she needed to say.
For the next 30 minutes, we talked about how easy it is to get a gun in this country, why that might be good or bad, and what happens in parts of the world where there are restrictions in place for people who wish to own a firearm.
In the Frank Capra version of this story, we would have come up with a great idea and a reasonable response, but life is not the movies. We struggled. In the end, many of us agreed to disagree on how we should solve the issue, but almost every soul in a seat wanted the madness to end. That’s all this teacher could’ve asked for.