Here's something to note: Back in May of 2005, The Huffington Post came online. It's a news source, an opinion platz, and a thorn in the side of most everyone who doesn't share their left-leaning view of the world. It was fourteen years ago this month that I opened my own little corner of the Interwebs. The one upon which you are currently gazing. Coincidence? Maybe not.
But it's definitely a conspiracy.
Back in those days it seemed like it was an important thing to do, writing about all the things that went on in my head. George W. Bush was president then. I didn't put quotation marks around his title, but I didn't refer to him as anything but "Pinhead." Without the quotation marks. This became my repository not just for the pent-up frustrations I maintained with the politics of the time, but it was also a place to store treasured memories. And a place to store anecdotes relating to my teaching career. The children I wrote about back then are now legally adults. The ones that survived.
And I don't mean that sarcastically or in reference to my own abilities as an educator. Sadly, over the past decade and a half, there have been a few of my former students who have given up this mortal coil.
One of the first entries I wrote was about the massacre at Columbine High School. I wrote back then about how I chose to stop playing Doom, a first person shooter computer game that was very much in vogue. It was a favorite of the boys who shot up that suburban Colorado high school. They chose to channel their anger and frustration into a video game. Only they didn't stop there.
This past week, I walked around one of the hexagonal sets of work stations in my classrooms and found a third grade boy staring at a screen. He was playing Doom. By some awful twist of Al Gore's Internet, a web service found a way to obfuscate the filtering service our district employs. This allowed him to roam, heavily armed, through virtual hallways and passages shooting at demons and bad guys.
My heart sank. I tried not to infuse my reaction with all those flavors that I had tasted over the past fifteen years. I asked him to log off and take a seat in the classroom time-out chair. I needed a moment myself to modulate my response. When I came to him a couple minutes later, I asked him if he had a sense of what he was doing. He knew that he wasn't being safe, responsible, or respectful as our school-wide expectations suggest. I asked if he was allowed to play that game at home. After a pause, he replied, "No."
After a few more minutes, we agreed to let him return to his assignment, the one that had nothing to do with gunplay or demons or dark passages. I tried to set aside what continue to be my own views on all things not found in Ed Code. I knew that I would eventually find myself behind a keyboard with a chance to reflect back my shock and dismay that some things are beyond my capacity to change with a page-long blog entry.
Kind of like the Huffington Post.