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The G-Word

How do we talk about guns, if at all, in the classroom?
How do we talk about guns, if at all, in the classroom?

Recently, I have noticed that a select number of my preschool students have an interest in guns. On the playground, they pretend to shoot one another with sticks. In the classroom, they create their weapons using multicolored Lego’s. I hear my four year-old friends making references to “good guys” and “bad guys”, and popular television shows such as Power Rangers. Consequently, I find myself wondering how to address this interest in a manner that is simple and constructive.

In the past, I have heard other teachers nip the issue by reminding their students that guns kill, so we do not pretend to play with guns at school. I’ve also told my students this, too. But I wonder if the statement is enough. Yes, guns can kill. But how else can guns be used? To protect, to hunt—are these concepts beyond the understanding of a four year-old? Furthermore, is it appropriate subject matter in the classroom?

I think parents and teachers need to consider the ramifications of a child’s exposure to guns, be it while watching a cartoon on television or joining an uncle on a hunting trip. As individual adults, we hold unique and strong opinions about the subject of arms. A child’s understanding as to what the benefits and drawbacks of guns are will depend greatly upon our own personal feelings about them. We must remember that a four year-old child is not yet capable of making up his or her own mind on the subject yet. They will in time, as they mature and gain world experience. But for now, it is up to us to make the call.