A simple request of a sixth grade computer class in which I was the substitute teacher.
Of course, this becomes “the line in the sand.” Thoughts race through the students’ minds: “How much can we get away with — our guy being a new substitute and all.” “Dude — how do you pronounce your name?” Never mind that I’ve already veered away from the optional lesson plan which would involve actual teaching and learning.
First there are the sports games. While they provide a comparatively healthy outlet for pent-up energy, they are violent. (Wouldn’t you call twenty two big men crashing into each other with all their might violent?) Given the options, the lesser of available evils.
Then there is the otherwise-bright girl who decides to pull up a game which involves throwing rubber balls at a “rag-doll-person,” who appears to be injured by the pelting. Certainly violent, but at least she’s firing rubber bullets. I could relate to this girl. The peer pressure is intense — fit in or else…
What about the on-screen bicycle rider, careening down a set of stairs, body parts and blood flying. Is this a violent video game? The students I asked did not think so. After all, the only person getting hurt is the bike rider himself.
And of course the zombie games: first person shooters with blood and gore everywhere. The 12-year-old’s analysis: “The zombies start out dead, so it’s not really violent.” I kid you not.
To be fair, one student spent five minutes on a web site which creates opportunities for students from 130 countries to work together on projects which make a meaningful contribution to the health and welfare of the planet. A drop of sanity in a sea of lunacy.
My classroom was being dowsed with violence. Energies from parents, teachers, and friends who are not getting what they want, and who would rather fight with each other than sit down and discuss their differences like grown human beings. Discuss, collaborate, and share the resources we have available to all of us.
Think of the paradise on earth we could co-create if we took all of the resources we employ to beat each other up, and instead used them for the things we all need to live a beautiful and rich life.
I will not be silent any longer. I will speak common sense until my last breath. There is just too much at stake to do otherwise.