What Can We Learn About Learning from the Newtown Tragedy?

Our country recently experienced an unbelievable tragedy, the senseless murder of twenty precious first grade children and six teachers and administrators in their elementary school by an evil and ill person.

What are we to learn from this event? Maybe we should learn about learning.

I have thought much about this tragedy and feel compelled to write about it, for my own sake so that I can truly learn from the event. I do believe that there is something to be learned about learning from this event.

I found myself like most other people feeling terrible, sad, hurt and thinking about the families of the victims. I have been deeply moved by it, and am trying to figure out what the lessons are from it and how to keep those lessons alive.

Tragic events such as this do have an impact and can change things. The reactions to this event do have me concerned though. The polarization in our politics is leading to, and possibly already led to, a major polarization across our entire society. The aftermath of the Newtown tragedy is just another example of this. I’m not going to go into the issues specifically as this is not a venue for those topics. I agree with much of the reaction which is obvious and necessary. But it is also limited, self-serving, and insufficient. This tragedy must be the result of many factors, not just the availability of guns. Most things in life are not clearcut, not black and white but grey, and are the result of a complex mix of elements, circumstances and events. This event is no different.

Do we really learn from events like this? We say we do but often the lessons fade away. How do we make this event different and truly learn from Newtown and make lasting changes? How do we make it matter and learn the important and necessary lessons? Let’s not jump rashly to conclusions, nor take ill-advised actions. We can’t take too long to learn the lessons either. We must learn before doing, then continue to learn and remember.

We must take action. The status quo is unacceptable. We have a responsibility as parents and as citizens. We are all parents of those children.

I have experienced tragedy in my life. I experienced the death of my father. I was in Manhattan on 9/11 and experienced the entire day in person. Everyday I say this important affirmation to myself, “to search for the good in every adversity that befalls me” from Og Mandino’s “The Return of the Ragpicker”. We should all do the same and follow this sage saying. We should not be so rash to jump to conclusions. We should be deliberate and consistent but not take too much time so as to forget the necessary lessons. Our history shows that we react quickly with the easy and incomplete change that quickly fades away as we retreat back into our everyday lives.

I am as guilty as the next person, as I often let the lessons fade away. I am going to do better and work to hold on to the lessons that I have learned from this tragic event and from life. I am going to think about them and work on them every day from now on.

I believe that an important lesson that we can take away is that it’s very important to always be learning and that this is one of the key ways that we’re going to get through this. Learning is also the best way to avoid these tragedies in the future. We have to further our learning society as more learning will lead to a better society. Learning gives you something to look forward to, to do, and to care about. We can also learn how to be a better society and how to better help those in need. Hopefully some of those troubled individuals will learn through this what they need to learn so they don’t feel the need to do sensational and terrible things like killing others. This certainly won’t solve all of the issues, but it can address some of them and we must do anything and everything we can to eliminate future events no matter how small the steps are. We must continue working at it and not give up. We must learn the lessons of this tragic event.

We must learn more about learning and we can do so through this event. We must learn how we learn from such events. We must learn how to make the learning last. We do learn from these events, but do we learn the right things in the right way? Maybe this is a key lesson of this event, that we must learn how to better learn from these tragedies.

Let’s learn together what we can do about Newtown, let’s learn about the real root causes of these events. There’s not one thing that caused this, it’s clearly a complex mix of things that are contributing to events like this. We must learn about how we learn in order to really learn from them.

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