“You said no weapons!” complains a 6th grader witnessing an older student who came to retrieve his model of a “potato masher” which is a German WWII bomb. “Did I?” I don’t think I have said that for years. I do know that there is a whole room set aside for weaponry at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Somebody must agree with the kids that weapons can be art!
Later I watched a small clutch of eighth graders building paper rifles – a craze that started when the first boy crafted one that had moving action (what’s that part called that you slide down the barrel and back to reload?) Now three or four others are making variations. I think there is a shot gun, and a futuristic one…made with such attention to detail - an eye for proportion, moving parts, reinforced areas – things of beauty, if you are a 14 year old boy in Vermont.
I strike up a conversation with these 3D artists: “Some people might ask if it’s ok to make weapons in school…”
“I say,” replies one student without missing a beat, “they are made of paper.”
Students know that these objects pose no threat to anyone. They also know that they are challenging and engaging to make. There is a lot of problem solving going on, and skill development, and envisioning.
I press on: “what about the concern that making weapons might lead to violent thought or violent action, that it might contribute to a culture of violence that glorifies war and killing?”
The conversation that follows goes something like this: “I am a hunter, I use my gun to hunt deer – not people.” “I like to target shoot – I do it with my dad.”
“Again” says the first boy, “they are made of paper!”
Just what are we afraid of, I wonder?