Teachers and guns… what could possibly go wrong

As a non-American it is always difficult to understand how this country handles guns and it can be very patronizing to tell another country what to do or not to do – although I’m really convinced about strong anti-gun laws.

But now President Trump said something about pedagogy that I never had expected. He proposed to let teachers to wear guns as a mean to protect their pupils against shootings. Yes, don’t fight the cause but just fight the symptoms.

This is for me almost impossible to grasp. Yes, he also said that the weapons should be concealed and only given to teachers who know how to handle guns, but still. Relation between teachers and pupils is key, and I’m not sure how helpful a gun in this equation will be. This is an euphemism.

But let me also talk about the almost unthinkable. What if a teachers snaps? It can happen, it still happens and I’ve seen it happening. It’s something we seldom discuss, but everybody in education has seen this once and a while… It shouldn’t happen, but teachers are humans too and there is a lot of pressure in our job. Now add a gun to the story.  What could possibly go wrong?

2 thoughts on “Teachers and guns… what could possibly go wrong

  1. Hello Pedro,

    I’m not, as you know, a teacher and as 99% of the Flemish population I consider myself an ‘expert in education’.

    This being clearly said, your blog makes me think of the response my third professional father, Charlie Palmgren, a phD in applied behavior science and organizational development, gave me when I told him – during the days after “September eleven’ – that I was really surprised of the reaction of his president and the majority of the Americans after those awful terrorists attacks. His response started as follows: “Johan, never forget that the United States of America have a surface of almost ten million km2 and a depth of only one inch.”

    I often think of Charlie’s metaphor when I hear news from the US, especially when I read the statements of Mr. Trump, their actual president. Let me give you a scoop, one of these days Mr. Trump will change the motto of the USA in: “In Guns We Trust.”

    I often think of the day the music died and thus “Oh, Boy!” when I hear or read stories from the “Badlands”. I hope, Pedro, you love the way I managed to wrap two truly great Americans in one sentence. Bruce, who covered Buddy’s song beautifully, would say: “I learned more from a three minute record, than I ever learned at school.”


  2. Hello Pedro (2),

    I did not comment on your “But let me also talk about the almost unthinkable. What if a teachers snaps?” (yet…, Carol Dweck would say).

    In my four professional lives one of the things that really didn’t change was that the undiscussables stayed undiscussable in the organizations I was working in/for, despite all the efforts I made to transform the mindset of the people within those organizations. In my endeavor I was strongly influenced and helped by the research and writings of Chris Argyris of Harvard University. In many of his books and papers he covered “Making the Undiscussable and its Undiscussability discussable.” He states in his paper with that title: “My recent research suggests, however, that the organizations my not be the basic cause of the problem. It appears that most individuals in our society (and in many societies around the world) are taught, through acculturation and socialization, a set of values, action strategies, and skills that lead them to respond automatically to threatening issues by “easing in, “appropriate covering” or “being civilized.”

    Chris Argyris wrote those lines in 1980! Although the technology changes were immense during the 38 years since then, the development of our wisdom has been – to me – minimal. So ‘education’ as a huge challenge. Thank you for accepting it.


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