My son has a 1st grade teacher who periodically talks about current events and local news stories in class. I have a real problem with this.
I don’t have to tell you that the evening news is depressing with daily tallies of murders, unemployment woes and political unrest. So…why would sharing this information with a classroom of 6 year olds seem like a good idea again?
The day my son informed me that his teacher told the class about a man who accidentally struck and killed two children while texting and driving, I had to ask myself what his teacher was trying to accomplish. Was she trying to parlay some lesson on the dangers of texting and driving? Was she offering a warning of sorts for these small children when crossing the street? Both? Neither? I had no idea, all I knew was this tragic news story was incredibly distressing to my already anxious son.
His teacher isn’t exclusively talking to students who will listen to a story like that and then go on their merry way. For kids like my son, they’ll worry that something equally terrible will happen to them, feel tremendous empathy for the victims involved, and attempt to make sense of the senseless.
Perhaps you think children ought to know what’s going on in the world as told in in child-friendly, age-appropriate doses. As a realist I’m inclined to agree with you, that is until I ask myself whether my 6-year-old really needs to know about the rapist on the loose or the child brought a gun to school that day.
Last year I wrote about my decision not to discuss Sandy Hook with my kids and now, nearly a year later, I’m still no closer to believing that my youngest needs to know about most of what’s going on in this scary world.