Since my last post there have been a few incidents at my school or involving students that attend my school. One of which was the shooting of a 7th grade student, who was a former Forum/homeroom student of mine from last year, he was shot in the arm by a stray bullet. He was simply playing basketball in his driveway when two groups of people got into an altercation following a car accident and the groups began shooting at each other. The student was hit in the arm and the initial fear was that he was going to lose his arm. Thankfully he has feeling in some of his fingers and seems to be recovering.
Obviously I went through the gamut of emotions with this from shock, to sadness, to anger and frustration following this incident. During one of my “frustration moments” I decided to attempt to channel that frustration into something positive with my students. We are studying the Bill of Rights as part of our gaming unit, so I decided to present my students with arguments for and against the 2nd amendment and we sat and discussed what the students thought. My goal was simple: I wanted to know what 8th grade students that live in Detroit, a city very near the top of the list of “Murder Capitals of the United States” where I think one could easily make the argument that self protection is a necessity in a lot of neighborhoods, thought about the right to own a gun. When you combine the previous point with the fact that 7 children this year have been the victim of a stray bullet in Detroit and 2 in the last week alone, and the last one being a friend of theirs I was interested to see how the students responded.
The result was a great conversation in every class with a high points including a student bringing up the idea that the Nazis did a lot to prevent gun ownership in Nazi Germany. He then argued that had these difficulties NOT been in place then Jews could have quite possibly done more to protect themselves from the Nazi regime. This prompted another student to bring up the fact that there were not a lot of guns or firearms available to the people that were enslaved throughout Africa during the slave trade and that they may also have had the ability to better protect themselves had that not been the case. Another student then brought up how when Africans needed guns they didn’t have them, and then said it was weird that African Americans were so often the victim of gun violence often from other African Americans. Really deep stuff! Another student brought up the comedian Chris Rock’s bit on gun control in which he argues that bullets should cost $5,000 a piece, the argument being there would be very few innocent bystanders if this were the case. I also tried to keep students aware of the situation with regards to hunters and people that use guns for recreation and how we would be punishing those people for something that others, who statistically speaking are probably not following the gun laws that are on the books, are doing. The conversations in these classes led students to a place where I believe they at least had a decent understanding of the gravity and complexity of the issue, that there was no “quick fix.” I then assigned them a reflection that I allowed them to use in place of one of their Boss Battle projects on whether or not they thought we should be able to own guns and what some potential issues and solutions there were with gun ownership.
The link that I am attaching is to a student’s reflection on my Scribd page. This reflection blew me away and I had to share it. There are so many powerfully and intentionally loaded statements in his reflection that it amazes me to think that this student is not yet in high school. Basically its a little bit of a bragging session about one of my students, but I also didn’t want to forget the discussions that were had as well as to store safely this student’s reflection.