School Daze

School Daze

Dr. Steve Mason

“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”

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School Daze

by Steve Mason

A school in Parkland, Florida is providing students with clear plastic, see-through carry bags. This is in response to the February 14th shooting that left 17 dead. Future plans call for a fence with a central point of access that will be equipped with metal detectors and attended by armed guards.

Crowds that gathered immediately after the shooting demanded that officials do SOMETHING! So it appears officials are indeed doing “something.” Whether or not it will prove productive or perhaps be counter productive seems not to be a concern. At least there is the appearance of strides being made toward improved safety. But let’s think about it. Imagine 2,000 or so students showing up at the gate at the same time. Will it be like the airport where you have to line up two hours early? And what’s to prevent someone with a grievance from lining up with a gun. Outside the students will be in easy pickings in a pack. Inside they will at least be spread out over dozens of classrooms. Perhaps this is an example of “something” the officials need to rethink.

A half hour’s thought will result in maybe a half dozen additional plans. Unfortunately, they will all include a fatal flaw that a creative teen, bent on mayhem, will figure a way to circumvent. The bottom line is that there’s no way to provide 100% security. A kid in a murderous rage against the school and the students will want to get even and you don’t know where or when he’s coming.

Perhaps it’s time to ask the reason for student rage, keeping in mind that only the minuscule number who act on it are ever noticed and counted. The fact is, it’s a much larger problem that adults ignore because schools provide a place to park their kids where they themselves don’t have to go. Read The Lord of the Flies and then watch Blackboard Jungle. Think of it as a homework assignment and be thankful you don’t get one every night. The book and the film will give you an idea how adolescents behave along with how schools operate and if you think these examples are exaggerated, how else do you account for 17 dead?

Add to this the fact that many (most?) of the classes have little to do with an education. Memorizing irregular Latin verbs and the Periodic Table in no way improves one’s ability to reason and think critically. What they do is make it easier to get a job by putting a sign on the kid’s head saying: I have a history of doing what I’m told.

Look At It This Way

Instead of trying to do “something” about school safety and winding up with Security Theater, why not eliminate schools? This would end the need to travel to a brick and mortar building where teens are indiscriminately packed cheek-by-jowl with potentially dangerous teens. How about providing computer lessons taught by acknowledged experts and specifically designed to serve the educational needs of tomorrow’s adults? The current school system is a relic of the past that in many ways has become top heavy and obsolete. It won’t be easy to change but some kid’s life may depend on it.


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