April 2018

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NL #9: Big Wet Boogers and Other Threats

NL #9: Today, during a social studies teacher's planning period, the high school had a lockdown drill. An announcement, then a horrble alarm (that sounded much like the horns during an MRI but went on much longer), rang out. Susan, the teacher, turned off the lights; a student put down the shades; we were all very quiet and got under our tables. We do these drills in case someone in the community, including another student, goes bonkers and tries to kill us all. We seem to prepare for the last catastrophe: in this case, the shootings at Columbine.

A few years ago I worked in a poor school that looked like a poor school. The window in my classroom--sidewalk-level--had  been broken out for some time. We had a lockdown because there was concern about the possibility of a gunman on campus (turned out not to be true.) We turned out the lights, locked the doors and huddled absurdly under the tables, knowing that anyone who wanted to could just crawl--or shoot--through the missing window.

So today in schools we're afraid of one another. Afraid of our neighbors. Afraid of our students. Afraid of our teachers.

Before we were afraid of each other, I think we were more afraid of natural disasters: fire, earthquake, tornado and hurricane drills reigned. I remember getting under my desk when I was in high school. I was long and didn't fit too well under that small desk that was attached to the chair. I squeezed under and looked up to the bottom of the desktop to see a huge wet booger--a kind of stalagmite (or is it stalactite?) booger-- hanging dangerously close to my head. I think I was more afraid of that booger than of natural disasters. I still think about that booger every time I have to get under a desk. If you work in schools, you know that's prettty often.

Before the natural disaster focus (I'm not sure which disaster that was in response to), my parents ducked their heads in school hallways and hid in underground caves (called bomb shelters) from the communists. I remember a state department official from Reagan's administration visiting our college to talk about preparedness for the Cold War turning hot: nuclear war. If a bomb went off and I was in the car, I was to get out of my car, dig a hole (I suppose I was to have a shovel with me), get in the hole, and cover the hole over me with a car door. (I suppose I was also to have handy some sort of wrench for removing the car door.) I was to do this quickly. I'm not sure when I could come out from the hole. The state department didn't explain that part.

I wonder what we will fear next. Whatever it is, we as a society will have to choose to pay for the protection: less than a shovel and a wrench. It seems like we've decided that drills won't help with terrorists, so my imagination stretches at it. What will be the next disaster? In what new way will we frighten children by having them experience the fear of a threat and the pitiful plan we have in place?

Admit it: you're still thinking about that booger, aren't you? Mary

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