Published: 09th March 2018
Have educators responsibilities shifted from being teachers to human shields?
Teachers are now contemplating their current role, which has strayed away from education and is now concerned with the overall well being of their students, fighting students with guns included
If we care about the children, the grandchildren, the future generations, we need to make sure that they do not become the cannon fodder of the future
— Helen Thomas, American reporter and author.
To start with, cannon fodder is an informal, derogatory term for combatants who are regarded by government or military command as expendable in the face of enemy fire. The term is generally used in situations where combatants are forced to fight against hopeless odds in an effort to achieve a strategic goal. The term derives from fodder as food for livestock. Soldiers are the metaphorical food for enemy cannon fire. It is not known in what context Helen Thomas wrote the above, but it has acquired a new meaning in the aftermath of the gunning down of 17 school children in a school in Florida on February 14, 2018. There were teachers who died shielding students.
Across the country, teachers are grappling with how their roles have expanded from educator and counsellor to bodyguard and protector. They wonder if their classrooms are properly equipped, if they would recognise the signs of a dangerous student, and most of all, if they are prepared to jump in front of a bullet.
Many teachers said that even contemplating such worries were far from what they had once imagined their challenges would be. As if the mounting pressures of test scores and email messages to parents and bus duty and hall duty and new certifications and all those meetings wasn’t enough. But the death toll has piled up — staff killed in shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and now at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida — and it is forcing a shift in how teachers view their responsibilities.
Now that education at many levels, and in many cases, has become a money-minting business, why not employ bouncers, like what high-end restaurants and bars do, and free teachers from defending their students from some demented, trigger-happy killers?
(John B Monterio is a lecturer who drifted into writing and Journalism. He has authored three books and is the founder of the Bondel Laughter Club in Mangalore)