The following words come from my son-in-law (with whom, those who know me will confirm, I have had a less than smooth relationship). In this instance however, he has put forth a thought provoking without being inflammatory concept which is worthy of consideration.
"THE 4th “R” in K-12 EDUCATION... Since Friday I’ve been saying mental health is the biggest factor in the tragic shooting in CT. However, after some more thought I think I’ve found an even bigger factor, perhaps the root cause to these tragedies. I believe our schools need to incorporate another “R” in the “3 Rs” being taught. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, our children need to learn about and demonstrate RESPECT throughout their K-12 education. Respect for persons is a nearly universal value. It is not reasonable to teach “God” in public schools because, for one, what “God” do you teach? We can all agree that respect for persons is important and leave it up to each individual on where their inspiration on how to demonstrate respect comes from. I use three requirements created by Errol E. Harris to explain respect: “first, that each and every person should be regarded as worthy of sympathetic consideration, and should be so treated; secondly, that no person should be regarded by another as a mere possession, or used as a mere instrument, or treated as a mere obstacle, to another’s satisfaction; and thirdly, that persons are not and ought never to be treated in any undertaking as mere expendables.” All children in public school, including those with mental illness, can learn the concept of respect. They can then be expected to demonstrate respect throughout their formative years. I guarantee this would lead to a decrease in bullying, school violence, and ultimately mass murders and other violence in our society. It has been widely reported that the killers in these school shootings were loners and did not feel respected by their peers (to go along with the fact they had some form of mental illness). Do you think it’s safe to say that if the killers were taught about respect and felt respect from their peers throughout their K-12 education they would have been much less likely to do what they did? Going out of your way to give sympathetic consideration to socially awkward and mentally ill peers is a GREAT way to demonstrate respect! I propose using transformative learning to teach respect in K-12 and incorporating individual outcomes into the grading system starting immediately. People who “fail” the respect curriculum should go through some intervention just like people who fail one of the other 3 Rs. Think about it... what will have a bigger impact in life... failing reading, writing, or arithmetic, or failing respect?"