Monday, October 12, 2009

Spare the spork and don't spoil the childhood

Coming soon to a school near you: legally-mandated padding that reduces schools' exposure during those increasingly frequent incidents wherein children are told not to let the door hit them in their expelled, camping-tool-toting asses.

As you'd imagine, I'm completely in favor of banning weapons in schools per se (though I would note that such bans weren't terribly effective at getting kids to not bring knives and loaded guns to my high school--some kids got caught and suspended, yes, but many more souls in that crowd of 4,500 just walked around with their protection devices well-concealed, and that was that). Having one's stuff stolen or one's ass groped--sometimes by teachers, counselors, and even administrators, I'd add--or contracting food poisoning via the cafeteria's liberal use of Magical Mystery Meat®, were far more common (not to mention clear and present) threats to one's health and well-being than getting stabbed, sliced, or blown to bits by a fellow student ever were.

This incident, however, involved a six-year-old boy and the Cub Scouts' camping tool that he received as a gift and was excited about showing to his class. And for his trouble (or, actually, the lack thereof), his school's officials suspended him and want to sentence him to 45 days of reform school because they have a "zero-tolerance weapon policy" in place. I'm dead serious (read the linked article).

So, I'm curious: what's next? No more baseball bats or tennis rackets? No more ropes in the gym? A ban on ballpoint pens and scissors and compasses and Exacto knives? No chopsticks in girls' hairdos and no popsicle sticks in art class, because someone might put an eye out?

They've already done away with Bunsen burners and most of the interesting chemicals in, um, chemistry, which in turn begs the question, What is the bloody point of having chemistry lab in the first place, then? They've already cut shop class and home-ec from the curricula in most Florida public schools, resulting in legions of kids who have no freaking idea how to repair a broken chair leg or turn on a stove and make a simple, healthy, affordable dinner, which idiotic policy in turn has rendered the current generation overly reliant on fatty, cholesterol-packed fast food that's full of unrecognizable ingredients and is expensive, to boot. Few teens these days (and God, how I cringed as I typed that) have the foggiest notion of how to shorten a pair of trousers or sew on a button or cut a slab of drywall or hang a picture on the wall. Forget doing any electrical wiring, plumbing, carpentry, shoe repairing, or furniture refinishing--all things that I not only know how to do myself without playing the damsel-in-distress card and calling Robert, but for which I actually have in my possession the necessary tools and chemicals. And I suspect I'm not terribly different from most of the women in my graduating class, ca. late-1970's, at the aforementioned High School of Peril.

Whatever happened to identifying the truly violent children and counseling, punishing, and--yes--re-assigning those individuals as needed? Whatever happened to affording our teachers a little respect for their intellect and good judgment and allowing them to, you know, exercise discretion, to be free to judge each unique incident on its face and instead of treating every child as a potential terrorist, to simply say, in cases like the one linked above, something to the effect of: That's wonderful, Timmy, but please hand that over to me for safekeeping for now, and we'll return it to your Mum at the end of the day.

Are we such a terrified, litigious, scapegoat-seeking nation that it's no longer possible to have a well-supervised environment--in art, in shop class, in home-ec, in chemistry lab--wherein our little ones can learn how to properly use all those Evil Sharp, Pointy, and Explode-y Things so they can grow up and face the world, in which, it must be said, there is no shortage of Evil Sharp, Pointy, and Explode-y Things?

And if we're going to bring up rare but horrific incidents like the Columbine school shootings in order to state the bleeding obvious--that we need to reduce violence in our culture--then why can't we start at the source and heavily regulate the sales and ownership of guns, and see if that doesn't do it for us?

Jesus wept.

Also at Cogitamus.

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