Wednesday, 12 September 2007

In Passing

Keeping the news from the kids

While reading yesterday's 9/11 reminiscences, I ran across two stories that bothered me. [Bolding is mine in both] First:

I was teaching at what was then Moorhead Junior High. It was a time where we had never had a lockdown drill and never had to have a crisis response team other than our school counselors. As the events of the day unfolded in the lounge on one of the few televisions in the building, we were faced with the grim reality of deciding how to handle the news with our students. Our principal made the wise decision to ask all teachers to shut off the televisions and follow business as usual. The tremendous magnitude of what was unfolding was completely out of our realm, much less the realm of twelve and thirteen year-olds... -- "lvundbison," commenting at
My two girls, ages 8 & 9, are at school... 4 blocks away from where I am. I have to go hug them and take them home. The school tells me it's better to not disrupt 'normal' for the kids & that they'll be told by their teachers what they need to know in a calm manner. -- "MEinV," commenting at
Now I'm sure those educators, in the face of an unprecedented situation, did what they thought best by isolating their students from the reality of what was happening. But let me tell my own story, about a Friday afternoon in November of 1963.

That Friday, my high school band was preparing for its fall concert, to be given the next evening. To get the feel of the hall before the performance, our regular class/rehearsal had been moved from the band room to the stage of the auditorium. The rehearsal went on as normal, ending with the passing bell at shortly after 2pm. We came off the stage to crowded corridors filled with silent students. The only sound to be heard, other then the sounds of their passing, was the blaring of the school's public address system. It was carrying a radio broadcast: The President had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. Along with everybody else, I put away my instrument and headed to my next class. It was there we heard (no classroom televisions in those days) that the President had died of his wounds, and, shortly afterward, that school was to be dismissed for the rest of the day.

President John F. Kennedy had been shot at 12:30pm, CST, or about ¾-hour before that rehearsal ended. The first press reports came minutes later. Yet we had been told nothing. Later on, the director explained that he had been told of the first reports, but decided to proceed without mentioning them because "there wasn't anything we could do about it, and it was our last chance to rehearse on stage before the concert." (Needless to say, the concert was canceled.)

Our band director was a nice guy, and I liked him a lot, but I still get angry when I think of him withholding the news of the President's assassination.

I wonder what those junior high students think now: On the most momentous day of the century, in a misguided effort to "protect" them, the persons responsible for their education elected to ignore what was happening and continue with routine.   And I wonder about the future health of a country that makes such a point of shielding its children from reality, leaving them to face it, when the time comes, unprepared.

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 21:22:56 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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