The other day I read in the news about a high school teacher in Australia who assigned the students in her conflict and terrorism class to plot an act of terrorism. The students were asked to plan a terrorist attack that would kill as many innocent people as possible.
As an educator myself, I understand the teacher’s desire to spark her students’ creativity in a project related to events that really do occur in our world today. But I have to question her methods. Can you imagine your 15-year-old daughter coming home and asking you to help her plan a terrorist attack?! I know I would be less than thrilled.
I think one of the reasons this article lingered with me is because I actually completed a similar assignment myself. I was taking a criminology class in college, and I had to write a paper describing in great detail a realistic terrorist attack. (I won’t share my very creative idea lest I get in trouble myself!) But this was ages ago, several years before the attacks on 9/11. We live in a different world now. Back then, I didn’t think twice about the assignment. After all, our class was focusing on terrorism, and the assignment made me realize that there really are crazy people in this world who sit around brainstorming the exact same thing I was. But now? Between terrorist attacks and school shootings, should we really be ENCOURAGING our kids to think like that?
So what do you think? Are you outraged by this teacher’s assignment? Or do you think the assignment would have taught them “feelings of regret and sympathy for the victims of their fictional massacre” as one parent said?