I’m going to be honest right off the bat: I’m completely torn on this whole student walkout that happened across the country today. As a teacher I can definitely say that having 6 of 24 students in class while the rest walked out made it a little harder to carry on with the lesson. I can also say that at first, I was furious. I don’t think I was so much as furious with the walkout itself as with the fact that my class had a quiz during that time. I didn’t intentionally plan it during the walkout, it just happened to be at the same time. I think I was more furious because, despite students leaving class on their own accord, I was told (as were other staff) that anything they missed during class we were to allow them to make up.
For whatever reason, that rather set me off. It upset me. Never in my time at school do I think I could have gotten away with essentially skipping a third of a class, and then being allowed to get full credit on the quiz (or whatever else) I skipped. I was upset because I asked 20 different kids throughout the day that had participated in the walkout, why they chose to do so. Only six knew the actual reason of the walkout. I had more students who openly admitted they just left because they knew administration had given a previous ok and stated there would not be any repercussions. I also had more say they only did so simply as an opportunity to get out of class their respective class.
The whole thought of walking out for these particular students made me sort of feel that there was a lack of fear in them. Right or wrong, that was how I felt. Like I said earlier, I would’ve never dreamed of walking out of class in middle school. I do not mean this in a negative way, but students need to fear. It is also important to note there are different types and ways to fear.
For example, a student who just started a food fight, made a bomb threat, or did anything else that most of us would consider as wrong, should rightfully fear their pending meeting with an administrator; they made a bad choice and need to learn the consequences. I’m not saying the students who walked out of school yesterday made a bad choice necessarily; I’ve felt for a long time as an educator that students seem to more and more every year become a little more disrespectful as a whole and less fearful. In talking with students though, it was clear they had no fear of what might happen. Most of them did not actually take the time to think through this process and weigh the pros and cons.
As I began to hear this was going to happen throughout the nation, I could not help but think what a tragedy it would be if a school shooting took place during the 17 minutes students were conducting their walkouts. Imagine having to do an immediate lockdown in a school with half the student body in the hallways and not able to get into a classroom! I’d be willing to bet most of our students never really thought of that. Thankfully that did not happen in our district (I’ve not heard of it happening in any other district either thankfully).
Maybe I am old school, but I see such a lack a discipline and fear in today’s generation. Again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t by any means feel we need to purposely go out and instill fear in today’s youth. That would be called bullying and is wrong. However, I do believe its ok for them to know there are consequences for choices- whether good or bad….or even possibly both sometimes.
I’m in the middle of reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis to my kids and Eustace talks to Edmund about when Aslan changed him back from being a dragon to a boy. Eustace states of his encounter with the Great Lion that, being a dragon he shouldn’t be afraid of Him, but he was. It wasn’t afraid of Aslan eating him or hurting him…he just was afraid of it.
For what it’s worth, despite being initially upset- mostly because the students skipped and get to make up their work- I was pretty proud of our students. They were very well behaved, respectful of other classes and students and conducted themselves with class and dignity.
Moving on, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says that God says we are to “fear the Lord, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord with all your heart and soul, and obey all His decrees.” I do not believe these school shootings are a result of bad gun laws. It is not about the guns, it is about the heart. There are so many adolescents that have a lack of fear of what may happen to them. They’ve stopped fearing God and as a result, are no longer fearing adults who are over them either. Once again, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say this even applies to the vast majority of students, but it is way more prevalent today than it ever had been. All these circle back to issues of the heart.
Going back to that verse in Deuteronomy, one of the things it says to do is to serve the Lord with all your heart and soul. One of God’s requirements of us is to love others as ourselves. Imagine if we worked on spreading love to each other. Imagine if we got back to fearing God, fearing authority- a life with consequences for actions. What if we actually feared those consequences to the point we picked one another up instead of putting each other down?
As much as I saw on facebook and other areas of social media things about that walkout movement, I also saw a lot posted for a walk-up movement. It encouraged students to do things like: walk up to the person that sits alone and ask them to join your group, walk up to a teacher and thank them, walk up to the kid that gets picked last and ask them to be on your team, walk up to someone and give them a word of encouragement. There were a couple different forms of this floating around but you get the point. When people are able to experience the love of Christ through someone else, they become opened to a whole new avenue of caring. When they begin to feel our love of Christ, they can then truly begin to feel the love of Christ towards them too. Many times, it only takes one simple act of kindness.
So I’ve decided after all this, and despite administration telling all staff we need to allow them to make up any missed work (including my quiz), that not a single one of them will take the quiz I had. This does however include the student who stayed and already took it. Instead, I’ve decided to compromise. Their “quiz” will be 17 blank sticky notes. Each sticky note is one point of the quiz and students will be asked, since they want to make a change, to write a simple word of encouragement to someone else in the school and place it on their locker. Ironically, they’ll now get to walk out of class two days in a row to deliver these word of encouragement.
Never underestimate a small act of kindness.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Be blessed. Be a blessing.