In August 2015, I wrote a blog titled “Bad News (for) Boys” in which I reported on boys’ academic achievement, and particularly their difficulties in reading proficiency. I quoted columnist Michael Kimmel:

“Boys’ underachievement is driven by masculinity – that is, what boys think it means to be a man is often at odds with succeeding in school. Stated most simply, many boys regard academic disengagement as a sign of their masculinity.”

The mass shooting at MS Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has raised an array of questions and opinions about this tragedy. While my major intent in this blog is to provide you with some instructional resources, I feel I need to offer you the context (the “why”) before addressing the “what” to do in your classroom.

Four quotes provide background for teachers, parents, and students in P-12 schools.

“MS Douglas High School was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago. The overall death toll differs by how such shootings are defined, but Everytown For Gun Safety has tallied 290 school shootings in America since 2013, and this attack makes 18 so far this year.” AP, 2/14/2018

“I challenge you: Put on a ‘boy perspective’ and take a hard look at your school – from the curriculum, to the décor, to the policies and procedures. What is turning boys off and tuning them out?” -Peter DeWitt, the author of Writing the Playbook: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School

“…Men commit the vast majority of violent crimes in this country. Every mass shooting we have seen in recent years has been a man….We don’t need to arm teachers with guns. We need to arm teachers with new ways of talking about manhood.” – Patrick O’Connor, H.S. English Teacher, Education Week, February 22, 2018

“What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys. America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us. The brokenness of the country’s boys stands in contrast to its girls, who still face an abundance of obstacles but go into the world increasingly well equipped to take them on.” – “The Boys Are Not All Right,” Michael Ian Black, NYT

Resources For You (the “What” – and How)

Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States
Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, February 28, 2018

Student Activism and Gun Control: How school leaders can respond—by listening, helping to empower, and affirming students’ rights
Leah Shafer, Usable Knowledge, February 25, 2018

Emma Gonzalez Leads a Student Outcry on Guns: This Is the Way I Have to Grieve

Resiliency After Violence, Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research to Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education 

American Psychological Association Resources for Coping with Mass Shooting, Understanding Gun Violence—Some Tips

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers, National Association for Secondary School Principals

Let’s Have Faith and Hope

“Faith makes things possible, not easy.” – Luke, 1:37

“Faith is an expression of hope for something better. More than a wish, it is closer to a belief, but not quite. A belief is rooted in the mind. Faith is based in the heart….All that we hold precious rests upon a faith in people, their potential not yet fulfilled. The evidence of history points us in a different direction—the world is full of ugliness, brutality, and injustices. Yet there is also tenderness, kindness and concern and that takes the bigger part of our hearts.” – Psychology Today, September 28, 2012

“I am overwhelmed again. But not by sadness. By hope. By the power of student voice. By the bright light that is the future generation….There is something incredibly inspiring about students standing up for what they believe in and finding their voice. Their courage deserves our respect.” – Michelle C. Lipkin, Executive Director, National Association for Media Literacy Education

“It should be possible both to believe deeply in the rightness of one’s own cause and to hear out the other side. Civility is not a sign of weakness, but of civilization.”  – Nick Kristof, NYT, conservative columnist

Edward DeRoche, Ph.D.
Character Education Resource Center, Director
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-2250 Office

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