Teacher Refused to Grade Reports on Hunting, Guns

When Denton, Texas, High School English teacher Dewey Christian asked a class of seniors to write about anything that interests them, two students chose pretty popular interests in their state: guns and hunting. One student wrote about his experiences hunting and a recent trip to a Cabela's store, while his classmate wrote about attending a gun show in Fort Worth over the weekend.

You'd think a teacher in just about any Texas town would expect some of his or her students to have an interest in such hobbies. But Christian refused to grade the papers, citing "a certain amount of violence and things in schools" when confronted by one boy's disappointed mother. The woman recorded the conversation with her cell phone and posted it to YouTube.

The Denton Independent School District soon said in a statement: "The teacher has accepted the paper and apologized to the student for misperceptions. The teacher's intent was for guns not to be trivialized in any school situation because of recent events."

However, that wasn't good enough for one of the boys involved.

"I don’t feel like I’ve gotten an apology yet," he told FOX 4. "I feel like he has just stomped on our right to free speech. He told us we would not be allowed to express ourselves and didn’t even consider what we had said. He didn’t have a clue of the content of my paper before he told me … he just knew that my paper was about guns before he told me that I would be getting a zero on the assignment."

I wonder how long our society will continue to tolerate this idea of "zero tolerance" gun policies. Why do our schools so often fail to distinguish a truly troubled youth from a young sportsman—or even a kid with a Hello Kitty Bubble Gun?

And I wonder if my life would've turned out differently if it'd been influenced by such manner of thinking. For instance, here's a photo I drew in first grade:

It includes two guns, a bird about to be shot and, well, a shameless plug for Winchester. What if, rather than encouraging me to pursue my interests, Mrs. Herman—a respected authority figure—had admonished or even suspended me for drawing guns at school? And what if a few years later Mrs. Shade hadn't praised me for a piece on dog training I wrote, which was ultimately published in a spaniels magazine? Would I still have become an outdoor writer, or would I have chosen a less enjoyable (albeit more lucrative) field?

Teachers have such influence on young lives. Let's hope Mr. Christian has learned from his mistake, and will exercise the same common sense demonstrated by my teachers growing up.

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2 Responses to Teacher Refused to Grade Reports on Hunting, Guns

Christ wrote:
March 04, 2013

Schools are no place for personal opions, they have enought problems as it is.

Brad Davenport wrote:
March 04, 2013

Our good teachers practice their own zero tolerance. They don't make a big deal about 6yr olds playing cops and robbers on the playground. Common sense needs to come into play. Kids have played with toy guns for ages. A minute percentage become bad and it is not because they played with toy guns. Also kids should be able to wear a DU or deer hunting shirt to school without the fear of being kicked out of school for having a picture of a shotgun on their shirt. What damage can a student do with a t-shirt. We are a nation of tolerance except when someone wants to talk about christianity or guns. That is not allowed. I'm old enough to remember boys with shotguns in the back window of their trucks sitting in the parking lot of schools. You never heard of school shootings then. In Oklahoma (my home state) legislation is trying to make it legal for teachers and administration to carry guns. They will go through extensive training to get their license. I think we are starting to go in the right direction to get back to common sense. God bless our teachers and our nation.