Brookline High School Teacher Launches 'Brookline Talks About Guns'
A Brookline Public Speaking teacher presents a new challenge in the discourse surrounding guns.
Elon Fischer, a public speaking teacher at Brookline High School, wants to have an open discussion on a tough topic: Guns.
Instead of having his senior students write essays on a variety of literary topics, requiring them to demonstrate analytical and argumentative writing and independent research skills for their senior papers, Fischer has his students write about contemporary issues. Fischer also writes his own version of a senior paper.
This year, for Public Speaking, Fischer is writing about how communities like Brookline can talk about guns in a productive and meaningful way.
“After the Newtown tragedy, I was struck by how limited the voluminous public discussions of guns, gun violence, and gun safety was in the halls of government and in the forums of the media,” Fischer wrote in his explanation of his project.
Fischer said is a volatile topic with many vocal advocates dug into theoretical trenches on both sides of the issue.
“I think kids are tired of the same old conversations,” he said. “We have one side screaming ‘we need fewer guns,’ and another screaming ‘we need armed guards and teachers.’ With people shouting past one another, students are becoming more and more turned off by the stalemate.”
So Fischer puts this question out to his students and to the community at large: Can we have a different sort of discussion? Can we find a way to share information and ideas and opinions that doesn’t fall into the same traps that have derailed much of the public conversation about guns?
“Given 21st century realities and the nature of my students’ lives, I’m turning to social media as the vehicle for this conversation,” Fischer said. “For starters, I’ll be posting online surveys to help me better understand the Brookline community’s thinking about gun-related issues and then using a website to publish this information. I’ve also set up a Twitter account to share out all that I find and to encourage others to participate and share. Finally, I’ve set up a social network so that there’s a place for more sustained discussions.”
Here’s how you can join the conversation:
- Follow Fischer on Twitter: @bhstalks
- Take the on-line survey: bit.ly/brooklinegunsurvey1
- Join the social network: BrooklineTalksAboutGuns.ning.com
- Email your thoughts, ideas, questions and concerns to Elon_fischer@brookline.k12.ma.us
“We’re eager to see if it can work—that is, if this might be a way to hold a meaningful conversation about a crucial public issue, a conversation that will engage the thoughtful students and adults of the Brookline community,” Fischer writes.