The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

In Memory of All the Children Killed or Injured by Guns

on April 10, 2018

Although it took me more time and thought to write this piece than usual — and I am still not sure that everything I suggested is reasonable– I felt that it was necessary to give a tribute to all the students who lost their lives in school gun attacks, and those young people who stood up for them all over the country last month. 


While students, their families, and friends were busy marching, speaking, and pressing for action against the use of dangerous guns and the right of dangerous people to have them, the NRA was mostly silent. Were they ashamed to defend their beliefs and actions about guns? Not in the least. They were just waiting for the public protests to end and the protesters to go back to their homes, jobs, and schools. Then things would return to normal, and the guns that had been identified as “extremely dangerous” and “must be removed” would sell more briskly than before.

Somehow, I doubt that things will happen as the NRA expects. Adults may return to their normal lives, but I don’t see students just going back to school and settling into their classes and homework assignments like before. A new way of life has been opened to them, and I suspect they feel that’s where they belong.

The problem for students who marched, spoke out on television, made contact with state and national officials, and lived in the real world for a while, is that now they have to devote themselves to required school programs that are not all that meaningful. In their classrooms they are chained to the traditional routine of classes in English, Math, Science, Social studies, Physical education, a Foreign language and the Arts. With that routine five days a week, ten months a year, I just see school absenteeism rates rising.

Although I don’t think high schools should throw the current classes down the drain, I hope that teachers will make an effort to reflect the real world as it is today in their classes. It is certainly possible for students to use math in making a chart of how many people who didn’t receive Flu shots died of viruses last year. In an English class students can write persuasive pieces about the importance of voting in all elections.  And students in an art class can paint pictures of families that are homeless. If teachers make a strong effort to bring the problems and realities of the outside world into their classrooms, along with the usual topics, education will become more meaningful for all students–and their teachers, too.

On a regular basis students should read newspapers, news magazines and other materials in class in order to keep themselves up to date on the issues that are most interesting to them. Then, they can discuss what is happening and decide whether or not to take action. If a topic is right for them to handle, they will make plans for what to do about it at school and in their communities.

One definite student action should be to move outside the high school classroom by writing or speaking to local audiences and making videos for groups that are hard to reach.  Whether or not students can do those things on school time is a question their school must answer–and I hope it will be yes.

In addition, I think it is also important for students to have a special day every year for protest marches against guns, like the ones held after the school killing in Florida. Although we can’t assure that they will be as large and dedicated as those that were held throughout our country last month, they will still be reminders to the NRA and local gun lovers that gun protests will not cease.  I hope marches will also persuade many citizens that owning several large guns and hanging them on their wall are not symbols of beauty and power but of vanity and ignorance.

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