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Different frames

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I agree that your article really does frame reassuring students well.

The frame I'm coming from is whether that should be a major topic for all students across this continent to be discussing?

Here is one perent's perspective: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1304238--commentary-tdsb-not-me-...
From the article:
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I said: “With a really young kid it’s my decision, the parents’ decision — not the teacher’s — whether to tell them a madman went into a school and shot 20 kids — kids like them — to death. If Ben hears chatter, I’ll deal with it at home.

“We made a parenting decision and your board overruled us.”
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And what about that student for whom home life is something school provides safe refuge from? Where a massacre in Connecticut is an entire world away, and school is the only safe zone in their relevant lives? IMHO we need to protect these students from a horrible thing like a school massacre being part of what school is about.

...On a personal note:
When my 13 yr old mentioned the massacre in front of my 9 (almost 10yr old) we took a moment to explain that a mentally sick person, in a far away city, took a gun into a school and killed some teachers and students. It was a horrible thing done by a very very sick person. My daughter asked no further questions, we offered no other elaboration. TV's were off for the weekend. Schools here chose not to intentionally bring the topic up.
My daughter grew her hair for 3 years to donate to a cancer patient. She has had 3 birthdays where she has asked for money, keeping 25% for herself to buy a gift, and donating the rest to charities of her choice. She insists on buying Chistmas presents for us with her own money. I don't need teachers bringing this tragic event up in school to teach her any lessons about compassion or caring or empathy. I don't need her wondering if a tragedy like this could happen at her school. She is a wonderful, sensitive girl, and if a teacher said,
"A man shot some kids and grown-ups, and some of them even died. That is very, very sad. When I heard about it, I felt very sad. It makes most people feel sad, scared and mad. Lots of people wonder why somebody would do such a terrible thing. It also makes some kids and grown-ups feel worried that the same thing could happen at their (our) school."
...That would do no favour to my daughter and could invite a sadness or fear that I would not want associated with school.

Author, speaker, educator

Handling Tragedy

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Sorry David for the incorrect title of the article listed in my response to your comment.

Author, speaker, educator

David Truss - Your point is

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David Truss - Your point is well taken and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and concern expressed by your comment. I agree that we need to be careful about not projecting our own reactions and planting feelings in our students that didn't previously exist. That said, I think anytime influential adults share their thoughts or feelings with kids about anything, we run the risk of triggering change in them. I think with an event that has the magnitude of Sandy Hook, it borders on the impossible to try to explain the incomprehensible without sharing the range of feelings the vast majority of people have or should have. Just as character education programs in schools attempt to reinforce for most and instill in some kids proper values, shouldn't educators be okay with letting our kids know how most people do or should react to a horrific event? I think with most things, kids are primarily affected by where adults place the emphasis, and as I hope you and other readers agree, my article focuses mainly on ways to reassure kids about how rare the Sandy Hook's are and therefore how unlikely (thank G-d) they are to happen at their school. That needs to be the primary emphasis. I think that those kids aware and/or affected by the events feel validated when educators share information on how most people react while those unaware or unaffected can either stay unaware as some kids will or begin to ask important questions about their world. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts and concerns.

Asking or Instructing?

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I'll start by saying that although I'm an educator, I am not an expert in dealing with grief. I'll also add that I really like your reassurances you suggest.

That said, I'm concerned about your introduction. Before asking students anything you 'lead' with very strong suggestions of what is 'expected':
"That is very, very sad. When I heard about it, I felt very sad. It makes most people feel sad, scared and mad."
You are not at this point explaining what happened but rather explaining what reactions are expected by 'most people'... Which begs the question, "Shouldn't I feel this way too?"

I'm making an assumption here, since this is edutopia, and not a parenting site, that this post is intended for teachers in their classes.

I wrote this: http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com/care-or-fear/ in which I tried to caution against two things, 1. Adults projecting their fears and feelings onto our students (with good, caring intentions); and, 2. Adults over sharing, and speaking to all students about such a powerfully negative event, when some students may actually feel safe and secure UNTIL (well intentioned) adults present the idea that safety should be something they consider.

I think "It makes most people feel sad, scared and mad" can be very validating for an individual student who has expressed one or all of these emotions... But I also believe that to address an entire class with this, could easily be a form of embedded command, instructing students to potentially deal with this event in a more emotional way than they would have or than is necessary.

I suffered through thoughts of 'what if this happened to one of my kids?' It is an aweful feeling just thinking about it! But I don't want my kid unnecessarily thinking, 'What if that happened to me?' Or 'Could this happen to me?' Or any other thoughts that are invited by adults projecting their fears or sadness or anger onto them.

Again, I'm no expert. I just would rather that we don't lump all students together for big therapy sessions when many of them don't need it, and for that group that don't need it, it could actually have negative implications.
~Dave

Parent and education enthusiast

Mr. Rogers

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On PBS Newshour tonight there was a story about a picture and quote from Mr. Rogers that has gone viral related to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Rogers said in the quote that when faced with any tragic incident, his mother told him to look to the helpers, the givers, coming to the aid of those affected by any tragedy, to find hope and belief that humanity is 99.9% good. This is a wise and useful perspective I believe to help children and all of us deal with an overwhelming sadness that ensues after events such as Sandy Hook.

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