10 May 2013

New on the curriculum in Suffolk, VA: there is no difference between a thing and a representation of that thing

via Hit & Run:
CBS Local / AP | 2 Va. Boys Suspended For Using Pencils As Guns
Holy shit! How did they figure out how to turn a wooden writing implement into a firearm?! I can see maybe a bow and arrow, possibly, if you have a very bendy pencil, but they used them as guns?!! How do you even... oh wait... hold on a second...
A Suffolk second grader has been suspended for making gunlike noises while pointing a pencil at another student.
See, when you said "used pencils as guns" I thought you actually mean those words and not "pretended one thing was actually another thing using their imagination." I get it now.
Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw says a pencil is considered a weapon when it's pointed at someone in a threatening way and gunlike noises are made.
Ooooh! Ooooh! I like this game! Let me play a round of "redefine a word to mean something completely different so I can justify my own pusillanimous idiocy and abuse of authority." Here goes:

A public school system spokeswoman is considered a weapon when she opens her dumb mouth and says something so daft that it overwhelms the listener with her contempt for boyhood, the intelligence of everyone listening to her, and the very nature of language and semantics.

I win! Okay Bethanne Bradshaw — get the hell off school property. No weapons (err, "weapons") allowed here.

"Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shootings in schools or shootings in the community," Bradshaw said. "Kids don’t think about 'Cowboys and Indians' anymore, they think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television news every day."
Yes, perhaps some children would consider having a pencil pointed at them while a classmate says "bang!" scary. But:
  1. These two boys were playing together voluntarily, so I think we can presume they weren't feeling threatened.
  2. They were both suspended, so they are each somehow both the perpetrator and victim of this apparently heinous crime.
  3. To the extent children think of drive-by-shootings it's because timorous nitwits like Bradshaw are running around screaming about how the world is a terrifying place full of demons, and policies like this only encourage such fear.
  4. Children are also afraid of monsters in their closets and under their beds. The proper reaction to a child who is afraid of a pencil is not to ban the pencil, it's to teach the child that a pencil is a pencil, and they have nothing to be afraid of.
  5. They weren't playing "Cowboys and Indians," they were playing "Marines and Bad Guys," because one boy's father was a Marine. Marines shooting "bad guys" is very much a real part of this boy's life, while drive-bys and school massacres are part of the confabulated world that school administrators attempt to construct for him.
These sorts of policies may be great for CYA, and they make people like Bradhaw feel better about exerting some agency over what is ultimately a chaotic world, but they also engender the very terror they claim to protect us from. They teach children to not only be afraid of violence, but to be afraid of the very idea of violence, the very imagining that violence occurs, the very possibility that someone somewhere may be doing something less gentle than Tinkerbell doing a trust fall into a pile of giggling Care Bears.

No comments:

Post a Comment