I don’t usually feature guest columnists on this blog, but when the highest offices in the land began mumbling and musing over the idea of arming teachers as a solution to our gun violence problem, I thought of my dad. So I asked him what he thought.
Alan McNee writes:
One blessing of old age is that, by definition, I am immune to early death and I am able to view the world with a relaxed detachment. I don’t lack comfort, and I can feel confident that I have played my part according to my abilities. I can reflect on my life’s experiences, good and bad, in the hope that I can categorise my feelings into some sort of order.
After school I was conscripted into the army, when National Service was compulsory. Then, newly qualified, I spent my entire teaching career in just three schools in England and Wales. At the time I retired I was Headmaster of a medium sized comprehensive school. I was a proud father and a loving husband.
I mention all of this because I am able to consider Donald Trump’s suggestion that teachers in school should carry weapons, recalling my roles as a soldier, an educator and a parent.
So, back to categorised feelings. This one fits very neatly under the heading “Startled”. I have been trying to imagine the situation where I am confronted by a madman with automatic weapon:-
- Where is my weapon stored?
- Who has the key to the cabinet?
- Is the ammunition in the same place?
- Is this weapon a match for the automatic wielded by the assailant?
- Will I do any collateral damage?
- Will I later face legal repercussions?
- Will the experience ruin my relationship with my students? And their parents?
- How will it affect my own family and domestic situation?
- Above all – Am I ruthless enough mentally to command the situation?
No wonder this Presidential “knee-jerk” startles. My advice to you Donald – let’s keep this idea of yours in the category where it belongs: “Computer Games”.
I am, like many others, in awe of the young people who have risen up from their own grief and trauma to confront the issues presented by our sea of guns head-on; the brave students of Parkland, Florida, their forerunners in Chicago and elsewhere across the country, my own young adult children who grace me with their wisdom and leadership.
As it turns out, we can still learn something from our parents, too.