When I chose to become a teacher, it never occured to me that teaching literature and composition would be dangerous. In my family, teachers were respected, highly regarded, even honored. But society changed. Families changed. Attitudes about nearly everything changed.
We had Viet Nam, Woodstock, riots, assassinations, demonstrations and protests. Everything was questioned---church, marriage, education, the laws. Authority in nearly every area of life came into question. Blind faith, blind obedience, blind acceptance were over.
Institutions that had not been questioned were now exposed for their secrests---protecting child molesters, cheating investors, the pollution they spewed into the environment, the horrid treatments foisted upon prisoners and patients, the dangers the employees were exposed to, and the manipulations and lies elected officials told. Family secrets were exposed: abuse, incest, "black sheep." Who was left to respect? To protect us? To trust? To teach us? What was important to learn?
It was a time of confusion, yet of freedom. A time of risk and of fear, yet a time of new opportunities and inventions. A time of exploration and research into the oceans, the heavens and the human psyche.
We still do not understand much about minds and motives. Over the past weekend, we have been stunned by the killing of 20 first graders, 6 teachers and matricide. Evil is not new. The Bible tells of us fratricide, of the infanticide of all male babies; the Greeks wrote dramas focues on patricide and matricide. Movies and TV are filled with murder and war. Horrors dot the history of humans. We search for answers in religion, in pychology, in brain research. What we learn seems in complete or in error.
There is no one, simple answer. As teachers we learn that while kids have much in common, each is unique. There is no one-size fits answer to the puzzle of human behavior. Family dynamics shape us. Enviornment and the times shape our attitudes. Knowledge improves us, but has a dark side---is the world better thanx to bombs or automatic guns?
As attitudes ahve changed, and institutions have come into question, teachers have born much criticism by people who have never taught. People who would not think of accepting the low salaries and long hours have gleefully criticized teachers and schools. Would those critics have put their bodies on the line to save the children of others?
The heroic acts of the teachers in Newtown CT show us that we still have good people we can trust. Those women gave of themselves to protect "their kids." Their courage and selflessness may be as puzzling as the evil perpetrated. The perpetrator and the teachers all are classified as human---what is the difference?
Maybe my family was correct---Teachers deserve respect! If you could read this, Thank a Teacher.