Back in 2001, Houston Independent School District gave me a $10,000 sign on bonus to teach history.

History. The story of the past. An exploration of causes that explain our present and, hopefully, a method to peer into a glimmer of the world we’re creating.

I loved teaching history. My most memorable class featured a highly animated crew of 8th graders yelling philosophical points about John Locke & Thomas Hobbes. Middle school students have fascinating views on the nature of man (their social map frequently resembling a jungle).

Hobbes looked at the past to define man’s nature. He thought our default state was war: Every man against every man.

“No Culture of the Earth…no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time, no Arts, no Letters, no Society, and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death.”

“Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Good stuff. Got the kids thinking not just why we need government, but what kind of government we should create. Some good learning. I like to think it was a bonus well spent. Certainly, a bonus aimed towards a strong purpose: Teaching and Learning.

Trump wants to give teachers a “little bit of a bonus” for coming to school armed. His quote:

“These people are cowards. They’re not going to walk into a school if 20% of the teachers have guns — it may be 10% or may be 40%. And what I’d recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus,” Trump said. “They’ll frankly feel more comfortable having the gun anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus.”

I simply do not know how to emotionally comprehend these suggestions (arming teachers and giving them bonuses) in light of recent school tragedies.

Intellectually though – well – there’s Thomas Hobbes (and a feeling of irony). Man against man, nasty and brutish. A “little bit of a bonus” for “continual fear, and danger of violent death.”

Ye gads.

(Shout out to Paul Krugman’s post – which goes all in on Hobbes – and reminded me of that “one” 6th period class that painted itself into a moral dead end.)

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February 25, 2018

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