Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Uninvited Images

I began student teaching about a month ago and I’m observing an 11th grade Honors American History class. Today, the teacher shared with students the most horrific pictures of people injured during WWI. There were pictures of men with half their bodies and faces blown away, African-American soldiers being hung and burned and photos of the plastic surgery. While I understand the point of showing students the atrocities of war, it seems almost too much at times. They’re sitting here with these stunned looks on their faces, and it seems as though they’ve lost a bit of their childhood. War is hell, no doubt, and we need to instill in them a sense of horror at these things so that they will never want to participate in such atrocities, but there is no warning, no limit to what we share. Since when is it ok to show a picture of a man with half his face blown away and his brain showing. I know that we need to share such things with students, but I feel as though I’m going to have nightmares because of these pictures. If I, who is already desensitized because of the onslaught of such things in college, am horrified then these students must be past feeling. It feels as though all we’re doing is barraging the students with these things, without fully preparing them and without showing them the opposite, what could have happened had we not fought. WWI was one of the bloodiest most atrocious wars in history, but if we hadn’t gone over there and fought and, at least temporarily, defeated the Central Powers we would have been subject to more mayhem and destruction. “Then fight when we must, when the cause it is just, and let this be our cry, in God is our trust!” (Taken from the third verse of the National Anthem, as best I can remember it). We couldn’t just sit back and watch our families (remember this is 1914, there were millions of first generation immigrants who still had extended families in Europe) be destroyed by people who had no regard for human life. I know this is kind of a downer, I’m sorry, but it really troubled me.

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