Student Walk Outs and Protests over Gun Control
On Wednesday, March 14 at 10:00am central time, twenty to forty students from my middle school’s six hundred student body participated in a walk out. My school’s administration allowed the walk out to happen and a teacher supervised the students. The walk did not cause disruptions to the school or any adjacent businesses or government buildings.
I asked a student how seriously he thought the group was taking the protest, he said about 25% (5 to 10 students). Students who returned said some students were throwing snowballs, while others talked socially with their friends.
I had some students leave my classroom, and after they returned I asked them to answer to simple questions on a sticky note:
Why did you go out?
- I went out because guns kill many innocent people that do not deserve it. If guns were more controlled then we would not have people dying in schools.
- I went out because I wanted to stand and serve those 17 minutes for those 17 kids. I want guns to not be allowed in side of school properties. It was kind of [a] quiet time for those kids who died. I want people to be aware that this may happen to them.
- I went out because I want to go against school shooting and how they are not right.
- I went out because someone that my family members know was affected by the shootings.
Why did others?
- A few others went for the same reason, others to experience a silent protest, others just went to skip class.
- Others went out also because they don’t want guns in schools or maybe just to praise those kids who lost their lives.
- Because they didn’t like them…and fight against them.
- I believe that others went out to get out of school. I think this because some of the kids out their didn’t even know what people were out their for.
The student responses show sincerity for their cause and criticism of their peers who did not take the walk out seriously. Another revelation from the students’ answers is there does not seem to be a coherent goal to their walk out. Students heard about the protest, did it, and to them, that was the end of their activity.
This is not a resemblance of our student body, but rather of the education that they have had. The students do not know how to organize and create goals, because, by and large teachers have not taught them to. This is due to several reasons: state standards, administrative expectations, pressure to teach social studies traditionally, and the overall difficulty of changing teaching methods with a lack of resources and training. This needs to change.
Social studies teachers should be at the lead of this change. It is the job of social studies educators to teach students about the nuances and intricacies of our society, protest and activism being some of the most important rights Americans have. These two rights are integral to a free democratic society, especially to the citizenry who have limited rights (e.g. people under 18).
Social studies teachers should be at the lead of this change.
No matter the content of the social studies curriculum: history, geography, economics, civics; a social studies educator can link modern day topics to the curriculum. With educational pedagogy like PBL, students could create projects that help them understand complex topics, like gun control or the debates of firearms on school campuses. Students can then organize some kind of activism that has clear goals. Otherwise, we have students who burn through their passion and only receive criticism from adults on their ‘wayward ways.’