All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The Virginia Tech Minute

This morning I gathered my Year 10's together during form time and we stood for a full sixty seconds in total silence (something that the students usually find almost impossible to do but managed admirably at 8.45 am), thinking and reflecting on the aftermath of the inexplicable events that took place yesterday in Virginia.

I guess, that as teachers, we perhaps feel the tragedy of Virginia Tech and Columbine High differently to say, a solicitor or accountant. We educators live our lives surrounded by children, whether they be three or twenty three. A school, a university or even a nursery is the one place we trust to be - or would like to believe are - free of the the impurities so prevalent in the outside world. We are all about learning and developing the minds of young people. We don't expect remuneration for our efforts, only our pupil's success.

In my mind, teaching could be the most altruistic profession there is. Parents do something that is almost alien to their being. They entrust us with their most valuable possessions, if that's the right word to use, in the belief that we will fashion them into respectable, caring and responsible adults.

Behind the facade of being cool and rebellious, these young men and women are still really children. They have not yet taken on the responsibilities of the world. They don't have a mortgage to work off or a partner to support and the only thing expected from them is to work hard to achieve their qualifications.

As a teacher, the idea that someone could enter the sanctity of a classroom and kill is more than just an anathema, it is the antithesis of everything that made me want to become a teacher.

It is for this reason that I shudder when I visualise the young man with his head full of hate, turning a temple of educational dreams into the mortuary that has today become the Virginia Tech.

This is why what happened yesterday was more than just the murder of the students. It was the contamination of one of the few remaining vestiges of purity, namely, school.