My knee-jerk first response to anything touching on the behavior of our nation’s children is, “ask a teacher.” They’ll tell you pretty much all you need to know like we need to teach better problem-solving skills in our schools.
When it comes to guns it seems that everyone in our country has an argument. And relishes the fight. Most teachers we know are not interested in the politics—they are too busy teaching their students and working to equip our next generation of citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, athletes and public leaders. But, if you ask them for their solutions to our most vexing public problems, they’ve got a lot of value to add.
Soon after the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown Connecticut, we collaborated with the National Education Association to hear from thousands of teachers in classrooms across the United States, including Connecticut and Colorado, two states forever married by wanton gun violence. As others debated whether or not teachers should be armed with guns in the classroom, we didn’t ask the “guns or no guns” question. Instead, we asked for their professional input on how to change our habits and the role of guns in dispute resolution. In response, they created a roadmap for schools to help reduce the need for gun control.
For example, what if we turned our ”anti-bullying” curricula into “pro-hero” curricula? They pointed to the unfortunate and frequently missed connections between schools and other institutions working violence prevention and treatment. How about we establish clinical outposts inside school buildings to ensure students have easy access to much-needed direct services? We can’t expect our schools to do all the work of building healthy, safe communities but we can certainly make our schools the anchor of thriving communities. You can see all the details HERE.
Real leadership means carving a new path to the possible. I respect and admire President Obama for his leadership on violence reduction and our national relationship to guns specifically. We the people know other public servants exemplifying the same kind of leadership quietly on a daily basis—educators in our nation’s public schools. These teachers carve a path to the possible every day they teach. We need to recognize teachers’ leadership value and involve them in the decision-making process inside and outside their schools more often.
At The VIVA Project, that’s exactly what we do—we ask teachers to share their ideas about how to improve public education in the United States. We don’t just ask them what they think; we ask them to solve the problem, eliminate the barrier and jump the hurdle. We use technology to transform teachers into the partners they should be in policy making.
Politics and public management are a reality in our lives. We need to ask for more leadership to balance out the corrosive effects of those. I thank President Obama and I thank all the teachers who are demonstrating that leadership every day.