Sunday, December 16, 2012

Speaking about the Unspeakable | Connected Principals

Speaking about the Unspeakable | Connected Principals:

Speaking about the Unspeakable

There was a time, before Columbine, when school shootings were unimaginable; the very definition of an evil so unspeakable as to be in our minds essentially impossible.
I have never forgotten the seriousness with which my  fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, defined “evil”. An educator nearing the end of her career, Mrs. Jackson captivated my imagination with the detail, nuance, and emotion with which she conveyed tales of how her family survived the Great Depression. She often had substantive conversations with us about topics connected to character and values. With all she shared, it was her definition of “evil” that most shaped my world views. In response to our class’ use of the term “evil” as slang, dramatizing minor, annoying behaviors, Mrs. Jackson sat us down for one of her serious chats. “Evil,” she said, “would be a terrorist entering a school and shooting children.” The image horrified; representing what we could not imagine as even conceivable. I never again used the word “evil” for anything short of the mass murder of defenseless people.
Then came Columbine. The inconceivable occurred; only at the hands of troubled youth, not terrorists. And this