Plenty of PR pitches for classroom products come our way, but this one for bullet-resistant dry-erase boards really got our attention.
According to the company’s website, these personal whiteboards can be used not only to facilitate quick-feedback classroom exercises, but also “as a shield from a gunman’s bullets.” The boards come in three sizes and two “levels"—denoting the kind of gunfire they can protect against. They cost between $28 and $62 a piece (or, based on a little reporter’s math, about $700 to $1,550 per classroom). The website states:
They could be placed under or in student's [sic] desks, fastened to the side of desks, or even positioned in backpacks for quick access and protection. School administrator's [sic] could conduct school wide drills and various training exercises to teach students how to effectively protect their vital body parts from a gunman who enters the school.
The site shows happy students writing math problems and then blocking their bodies with the boards. But I can’t help but wonder: How do you explain the “dual purpose” of these dry-erase boards to young students without completely freaking them out?
To be fair, the question of how to protect students without instilling a fear of school has been viable in myriad situations since the tragic Newtown school shootings. I have a nephew who is in kindergarten, and at his public school they conduct active-shooter drills, but tell students they are practicing in case a wild animal enters the school. (My nephew, apparently, thought nothing of this. But it got me choked up.)
What are your thoughts on how to approach safety vs. fear? Are these kinds of products enticing to you? Has your school invested in anything like them?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.