Monday, May 14, 2007

Teachers simulate Columbine scenario with sixth graders

By William Prendergast

You who prize your feelings and self-righteous outrage above all:

Please refrain from judging these teachers until you have read both sides of the story.

Teachers stage fake gun attack on kids Sun May 13, 5:28 PM ET

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.

But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged.

"The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them," said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

I’m sorry, but I can’t see how. This is a situation that these children are very likely to have to deal with, if they grow up in a culture that makes handguns available to any nut with a grudge.

True, ten years old is a little young. The numerous student shooting incidents that have won our nation fame usually involve older students.

But you’re never too young to learn something about safety—whether it’s a fire drill (or back in my day, “what your school should do in case of nuclear attack”)—or, in our day, “what to do if an armed maniac attacks your sixth grade class in the middle of the woods at night.” Children must learn that they must be prepared for these eventualities, however unpleasant.

Traumatic? Perhaps. But childhood is filled with many traumas—the destruction of the World Trade Center on TV, the first inexplicable appearance of pubic hair, etc. The traumatic aspect of the exercise must be weighed against its positive benefits.

And, displaying typical mainstream media bias, the news coverage fails to mention the latter. What about the fact that these sixty-nine sixth graders (normally unruly and undisciplined) were very, very well-behaved for the remainder of their weeklong trip to the state park? Why is that left out of the new report? If you have ever been an adult charged with supervising a large group of elementary school children, you are sure to see the value of such an exercise.

Indeed, this practical application of crisis psychology is similar to and in fact key to the present White House administration’s tenure of office and its continuing ability to control 35% of the electorate.

I realize my point of view is unpopular and unlikely to receive a warm reception in this forum. But the hell with you, anyway.



At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny or sad? I can't decide.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Fajita said...

It is good to hear more than one hysterical side of the story.

In fact, what you will find when you hear the whole story is that this was more like a ghost story around a campfire that went amuck. Bartch was trying to save the teacher who has telling this story by debriefing the experience.

Bartch will emerge as a hero in this mess.


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