Post 14: The Education of Adam Lanza
Wednesday, December, 19, 12 § 5 Comments
Like all of us, I’ve been trying to digest the tragedy in Newtown this week.
I’ve been grieving from afar, been holding my daughter more tightly. Checking on her more often at night.
Perhaps the experience is too raw for us to make meaning of it, but as much as I try to keep them at bay, the questions arise. Why did he do it? How did Adam Lanza lose touch with his humanity? How are we creating young men like Lanza, like James Holmes from the Aurora shooting?
For me this is not a gun control issue. Neither is it an issue that can only be addressed by psychiatrists.
For me, this is an education issue, and it implicates us all.
As a society, we had our opportunity to reach Adam Lanza and James Holmes during the years and years they spent in school and in classrooms. We failed. We focused on academic skill-building when we needed to focus on who they were as people. We gave them worksheets and exams when they needed interaction and exploration and mentors. We gave them false success and an empty diploma when they need self-esteem and a place in the world.
You’re bristling, maybe, as you read this: Schools cannot be held accountable for everything.
I agree. Schools cannot fix broken families. They cannot solve poverty, cannot create social equity. Repairing social fabric and creating a more equitable economy are massive undertakings, and will only begin when the adults of our nation find ways to recreate values and check our love of capitalism.
But schools–if we imagine them differently–can reach young people. Even “seriously disturbed” young people. Schools can create communities that embrace children for who they are, and guide them toward a discovery of their own paths, toward the confidence, critical thinking, and wisdom they need to stay human in a dehumanized world.
People talk a lot about schools that cover a child from “cradle to career”: from the confining structure of the crib to the confining structure of the job.
They’re on the wrong track.
We need “womb-to-wisdom” schooling. We need to take a hard look at ourselves, at our schools, and at what we should offer the young people whom we have the honor and privilege and responsibility of teaching. We need to begin reimagining–and now.
Seth Biderman – December 20, 2012