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Columbine High School is, according to CNN, a "state of the art" facility,
presumably in a well-funded school district.
I just saw the photos of the kids who did this on MSNBC. They looked like
average, American straight-A kids. What went wrong here? Was it perhaps
some identification with another pair of clean cut American boys who went
astray--Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols? MSNBC just indicated that the
shooting occurred on the anniversary of the bombin of the Federal Building.
Or is it something deeper, a deeper disturbance in our collective social
conscience. A few years ago, here in Indianapolis, two students at one of
the state's biggest and most prestigious public high schools axe-murdered a
Presbyterian minister and his wife. What went wrong?
Blues, you question, "where are the parents?" drives right towards the heart
of this, I believe. How could they NOT notice what was going on?
Unfortunately, there is no competency test one has to pass before becoming a
parent. Unfortunately, love is not a pre-requisite of parenthood.
Unfortunately, even when that love is there, it does not always take the form
of involvement in the child's life.
So that brings the subject around to us--teachers. My father (a teacher for
40 years) has been, from time to time, uncomfortable with the notion that
public educations are expected, more and more, to be surrogate "parents". I
can't see how, in any time or place, it could be any different. I do believe
it "takes a village" to raise a child, and we are a part of that village.
At once I ask myself, "My God, why didn't the parents see this?" Then I have
to ask, "Why didn't ANYONE see this coming?" We live in a world that is so
individualistic, so driven by, "I'll take care of my own and let others deal
with their own shit" (Sorry if that offends) that we fail to see where our
brothers and sisters need help. We compartmentalize our lives and say so
often, "Well, that's not my responsibility . . . ."
Blues, I' like you on this. I do not know what the answer is, what exactly
went wrong. I have to believe, though, that by building strong communities,
in our schools and throughout our country, we stand the best chance of
steming this violent tide.
I think that as art teachers, we see a very different side of "problem"
students. I know I do. Let's use this special place art occupies in the
public schools along with all of our creative energy, to build safe,
creative, nurturing, peaceful learning communities.
Sorry for the length of this post.
Thanks for reading,