The day my teacher came to school with a gun

I bought my seven year old son a hammer.

As I sit here, staring at these words on a computer screen, I bought my son a hammer, one thought rises up and doesn't let me go.

What was I thinking?

First of all, it is an opening salvo in the war to preserve our past in our children. Everything I grew up with is as foreign to my kids as my dad's childhood is to me. My dad had no electricity, no running water, and in the winter, one of his chores was to shovel a path through the snow to the outhouse.

I couldn't get my head around it. All I could think was, my dad is weird.

And now, here I am, doing the same thing to my kids and they keep looking at me like I was speaking in parseltongue.

"Dad," my son said to me and held out the iPad. "Can we download some of the games you played when you were a kid?"

"Sorry, Bud," I shrugged. "They didn't have iPads when I was a kid. They didn't even have computers until I was a teenager."

The best memory of my elementary school was the day our teacher walked in to the class room with a gun.

Actually, he had three guns. A double barrel .410 shotgun, a lever action Winchester 44-40, and a .22 magnum semi-automatic with a 28 round clip.

We spent the afternoon learning how to assemble and disassemble firearms. One month later, I scored perfect on the Conservation And Outdoor Recreation Assessment exam, and was awarded my hunting license. As was everyone else in our grade seven class, because this was a mandatory part of the curriculum.

We also read some books about ancient Greece and Rome. We did a lot of spelling. Some math, and some Canadian history. I don't remember any of that. But I can still disassemble a bolt action rifle in less than a minute.

That was the same year, our Principal gave us a civics lesson, because of the upcoming federal election. He outlined all the major parties, who their leaders were, and their platforms. He took the entire class to a political rally. And, to give us all a head start in developing our own political sensibilities, he also gave us a crash course in which parties were pinko socialists, and which party should be the natural ruling party.

Both my 7th grade teacher and my principal have retired, which is a good thing, because they would be run out of town on a rail today. The thought of bringing a rifle for children to handle is enough to cause the heads of an entire PTA committee to explode. And the idea that a principal could tell 12 year old kids which political parties he favored is enough to make you want to reinstate the trusted tradition of cutting out his tongue.

But, best I can remember, not one single kid in our class grew up to be a murderer or even a common criminal. And we already knew which ones would grew up to be assholes by the fifth grade. As for politics, the entire grade seven class did not grow up to be Liberal fanatics. Some did. Others leaned to the left. Others to the right.

Maybe these teachers were a little bit crazy. But they trusted their students in a way that we don't today. They not only expected that we were mature enough to not be turned into militant nazis by touching a gun, they also expected that we were mature enough to hear an authority figure's opinion, yet still form our own.

Funny thing is, they were right.

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