A tragic day in Ohio
In another life, I was a crime writer. True crime. I’ve interviewed 14-year-old murderers and 15-year-old rapists, written books about college graduates who commit murder, about lowlife “woodchucks” who do the same. And anyone who has ever sat in a kitchen with a mother whose 12-year-old daughter was stabbed to death or sat alone in a room trying to recreate these gruesome scenes on paper—well, this is why I left the field and did not look back.
But my heart goes out to the parents, family, and friends of the victims of the Chardon, Ohio, shooting. And to school personnel at Chardon High School—this is when you earn your angel wings.
Everyone is asking themselves, How can we know?
I know that educators all over the country are now huddling with their school security officers and school counselors and social workers. They are reviewing their building entry and lock-down procedures and reviewing the student suspension files, to look again at the records of children who may have been kicked out of school for carrying a weapon or threatening to harm someone or—or what? Everyone is asking themselves, How can we know?
The answer is that we can’t. But what we might consider trying, as the next few sorrowful days unfold, is resolving to get to know our children, whether we are a parent, friend, or teacher. When we are able to look into the hearts of children, we will, of course, find their angels. But we will also find their demons and must help the child to banish them. That can happen only if we spend time with them. Not long before the terrible tragedy in Chardon I was discussing discipline and classroom management with a teacher in Dayton and she told me, “We don’t have discipline problems, we have feedback problems.” She meant that our first duty to children is to pay attention to them.
Just yesterday, at a meeting of our local school board’s curriculum committee, a special education teacher was trying to explain to a social studies teacher that the road to student motivation runs through the ear. “Listen to them,” she exhorted. “It is so important to make these individual connections to children. Then they will open up and then you can reach them.”
Our sincere condolences to the children of Chardon.
Category: Additional Topics
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About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
May 23, 2013
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