Monday, 19 September 2011

Lockdown

I make a habit of eating together with my son – and my husband when he’s home.  It gives us a chance to talk about the day and to find out what is going on in each other’s lives.  I admit I don’t have much interest in video games and have actually had to instigate a rule that we don’t discuss Pok√©mon strategy at the table and in return I don’t bore him with details of localizing software.  

With such a restriction of topics in place, school is a major topic of conversation.  Besides, I like to hear about what the kids are learning.  Some of it is charming in its simplicity (i.e. multiplication tables), and some of it stuns me that it is actually on the curriculum for Grade 5.  For example, my kid not only knows what a Tesla coil is, but where they are used.  Did you know this in Grade 5 or did you have to wait to see it in a movie?

Like always, there is an element of public safety in schools and how to live in a large group of people without chaos and anarchy.  Today there was a fire drill.  Nothing new there.  I wholly approve of practicing fire drills because in the event of a real fire you really do need to know what the plan is – and since there is an arsonist working in the Ottawa area right now I think it’s an even better idea.  Then Ian informed me that next week they were going to have a “lockdown drill”.

I very nearly choked.  A lock down drill in an elementary school.  Holy shit.  I asked him about it and was told that it was in the event of a threatening situation in the school.  Really?  Part of my mind thinks this is the worst kind of paranoid overkill that makes kids think that gunman and hostages in schools (because that's what this is really about), while not common, is common enough that we actually have a plan in place for how to deal with it.  Part of me thinks that planning for just such an eventuality is the first step to normalizing what is considered an abnormal behaviour.  

But then there is the other part of my mind – the part that actually reads the news and knows that no matter how much I wish it otherwise, this is part of our world now.  There are guns in schools, and kids and teachers are taken hostage or even killed.  I can stick my head in the sand, in a box (or elsewhere) but it doesn’t change anything.  It happens.  I’m not exactly reassured to know there is a plan in place for such a distant eventuality but I am actually glad that someone out there has the thankless job of making policy to ensure the safety of my kid in school.

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