Saturday, March 10, 2018

Arming Teachers


The latest wisdom from the top is that we can solve violence in schools by arming teachers. Brilliant! I agree 100% and indeed, have devoted much of my life to arming teachers. I arm them with great material worthy of their students and imaginative ways to develop the material. I arm them with a first-hand of experience of how fun enlarges and deepens learning and how fear shuts it down. I arm them with the warmth of community feeling as we make music together with the open arms of welcome. I arm them with a confidence beyond their limited schooling that they can create music and play beyond their own expectations. I arm them with the stories that remind them why they chose to be teachers, that pleasure beyond any salary or social standing that they are touching the hearts and souls of children. I arm them with the determination to speak out on behalf of children, to teach to the change they want to see in the world, to create a safe, risk-taking, space of belonging inside the closed doors of their classroom. In short, I arm them with the tools to open up rather than lock down. It’s fine with me to have a plan and a lock in case the once- unthinkable shows up at their doorstep, but the arms we need are the beckoning ones that hug and dance and play drums and the long-term healing of our (hopefully) short-term crisis must come from that place of love and care and welcome and beauty that is the teacher’s real craft.

I also believe that the children should be armed. With intelligence, with habits of mind and body, with the discipline of empathy and compassion, with the means to pursue their unbridled curiosity, with the can-do confidence that comes from an adult community that celebrates them, protects them, nurtures them, inspires them, challenges them, knows them and learns to love them. With schools taking those practices seriously, alums may burst through the doors of their alma mater overflowing with gratitude and sprinkling their thanks throughout the halls.

While we’re at, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the government to arm schools with funding for the arts, viable teacher’s salaries, enticing professional growth that is actually meaningful to the children they teach and a public affirmation of the dignity, worth and supreme importance of the teaching profession? Why, I do believe that would be helpful. While they’re at it, they can disarm the testing industry, reveal the purposeful lie of machines making kids smarter, insist that our kids learn a real American history and school them on the actual principles of the Constitution and the duty of citizens to be informed with actual facts. Arming schools with that kind of power, well, I’m all for that.

Somehow I don’t think these are the discussions going on right now in the state legislatures and halls of Congress. And thus the madness continues.

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