(Photo source: Elizabeth Wroe, 2017)
I love discussing current events with my students.
The best part about this is that in New York State, the required civics course “Participation in Government” is typically given to seniors, so not only do I get a bit of wiggle room as far as curriculum goes, but I can also have relevantly intelligent conversations with young adults. Students who graduated have told me that our current events discussions were their favorite part of the class.
In all the conversations I have with the kids, I try and have a hopeful tone.
A kid got stabbed to death in a New York City high school the other day, and I reminded my students that the last time a similar death happened was over two decades ago. When Trump got elected, I had them take an unbiased and rational look at the ramifications.
This brings us to our discussion of the Las Vegas shooting.
This much anticipated discussion never happened.
The shooting was insane.
A scumbag with a machine gun mowed people down at a country music concert.
I should have asked the students how they felt. I should have taken the time to answer any questions they had.
But I didn’t.
Time and again, I have had the misfortune of being a government teacher during a mass shooting, and I used it as the opportunity to start my gun violence/gun control unit a little early.
I make a sad statement about how these things shock all of us, and how the solutions to prevent something like this from every happening again aren’t easy.
The lessons go on. We move on. A new semester rolls in. Another mass shooting occurs. Repeat.
But this time I didn’t even mention the shooting.
I probably should have.
I’m tired of the speeches. I’m tired of feigning shock, and I’m tired of feigning hope.
The solutions are obvious, but only to half the country, and I don’t want to tell thirty jaded teenagers that I’m jaded too.
I don’t want to tell seventeen-year-olds that, yes, these mass shooting will continue.
Not a damn thing changed when a bunch of elementary school kids were killed and not a damn thing will change after people enjoying a country music concert were killed.
The days afterwards rolled by and I felt the itch. But I couldn’t bring myself to scratch it.
Today’s lesson will be on the race for mayor.