Stupidity May Be Contagious

.Just when you think you’ve begun to understand the almost daily dose of zaniness emanating from Washington and suffer from the momentary delusion that the stupidity is confined to our nation’s capital, we are confronted with the possibility that stupidity may, in fact, be contagious.

I’m fairly certain that readers of this blog may hold differing positions on the issues relating to gun control. My intent is not to enter that debate in this forum.

A recent article in Ed Week highlights the need for a much larger set of questions. The article addresses responses to a 17-minute nationwide walkout that is planned for March 14, and another protest planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine, Colo., school shooting, which left 13 dead.

In the Needville Independent School district in Texas, the superintendent has said that the district will not allow students to protest during school hours and warned students that they will face a three-day suspension if they chose to do so.

(Although not one of the questions I wanted to offer in this blog, can anyone else not wonder about the irony of the community’s name?)

Obviously, the folks in Illinois are a bit more subtle than their colleagues in Needville. As also reported in the Ed Week article, the superintendent of Peoria

…wrote on the district’s website that teachers and students in Peoria, will not be participating in the upcoming walkouts and protests against gun violence.  There were other ways to show support for the victims of gun violence without disrupting school, she said.

This isn’t a disruption for scheduled brain surgery. It’s a few hours out of a school day in which, if Peoria is represented in the recent Gallup polls about student engagement, less that 50% of the upper class students are engaged in what’s going on anyway.   In all likelihood, however, the protests also represent a disruption in the routines and schedules that adults find so comforting and which are so important to cultures of compliance and control.

Regardless of your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment or the status of your NRA membership, this situation is filled with teachable/learnable moments for both adults and kids alike.

I believe with increasing conviction, that we have lost our way with our current iteration of education as it is reflected in our commitment to schooling. I believe that, borrowing from Clark Aldrich and his book, Unschooling Rules, education should focus on three core principles: a commitment to help kids learn how to know; a commitment to help kids learn how to do; and, finally, a commitment to help kids learn how to be.

With a request for forgiveness from any math teachers who are reading this, can you imagine a universe in which a deeper understanding of parallelograms would be more important than helping kids explore what and how they can/should should Know about issues relating to school safety, gun control, political actions groups, and the 1st and 2nd Amendments? What about how to Do a peaceful and thoughtful demonstration of concerns about their own safety? What about helping young people learn how they want to Be in the world they see around them?

Oh, but wait. I forgot. We can’t disrupt the school day.

3 thoughts on “Stupidity May Be Contagious

  1. Right on Richard! There are many important issues that the educational systems must put at the forefront. This is one of them. To actually discourage and even penalize those who attempt to make a difference in this nation and in this world, is no education at all.


  2. Absolutely correct, Richard! Many issues, particularly gun control is one of them. If people (especially students) are not taught the importance of the subject, and then are discouraged and even penalized for learning and speaking about it, we are doomed indeed.


  3. Thanks for another thoughtful piece, Rich. I wonder how many schools who have been focusing on “student voice” will miss this opportunity to listen. Many places want to hear “student voice” . . . as long as it’s polite, in line with school norms, doesn’t interrupt anything, isn’t controversial and they can exert some level of control over how and when that voice is heard.
    I hope the students in Peoria DO disrupt school on that day — even if it’s for 17 minutes to show their support of the need for change with this issue. I’ll take you Know, Do, and Be exhortations over the study of parallelograms any day as an example of true learning.


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