Alley's Speech

Keeping with this weeks theme of stealing people's homework assignments and using them for my filler,Alley Mae used my idea of teaching mental health skills as a mandatory part of public education as the basis for a speech she needed to write for English class, and I thought she did an excellent job.

Enjoy, I know I did!
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Mental Health Skills Should Be Part of Public Education

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board of Education, I come to you today with a matter of grave importance. As we as a nation discuss the merits of gun control and security in our schools, I feel a much more important matter is being overlooked. I don't want to take a side in the gun debate, so I'm going to leave my opinions on that out of this, and I don't want your views on that very important discussion to color anything I'm about to say. The matter I've come here to talk about does bring an often overlooked solution to the table as far as school shootings though, and I think it's in everyone's best interest for you to hear me out.

We should be teaching proper mental health skills to all students beginning in elementary school and continuing all the way up until graduation. This would stem the violence of the shooter crisis, as well as better equip students for learning in a classroom setting and dealing with life after high school. My classmates, your students, are leaving these hallowed halls woefully unequipped to deal with life, and it's because we're only taught how to handle our physical health, not our mental health.

It's a fact that not all of these shooters suffer from a severe mental diagnosis like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The people committing these mass murders aren't psychotic. There's too much logic and forethought in their motivations, selection of targets, planning, and execution for them to be totally out of touch with reality. While studies are able to clearly correlate mental illness with violence, that correlation doesn't account for anything close to 100% of all acts of violence. A very large portion of the shooters do not carry a severe mental diagnosis. The ones that do suffer from mental illness are generally inadequately treated, if they're treated at all.

If we were taught proper mental health skills preemptively in class, instead of reactively at a doctors office or in a hospital, both the shooters with mental diagnoses and the ones without are going to be much less likely to lash out violently. I wouldn’t need to walk through the front doors of my school every day wondering if today is the day one of my classmates will get tired of it all and start firing on me and my friends at random if people knew how to deal with stress, social pressure, and their negative emotions better. The people being pushed to that point would not be pushed there if students knew how to care for their emotional wellbeing and the wellbeing of others better. Society as a whole would be much better off if everyone understood the mental health of ourselves and others better. 

This goes far beyond just the shooter crisis, however; Your jobs as educators would be made much easier in quite a few different ways if you introduced these types of courses as required learning. For instance, you tell us we need to learn, but you never tell us how to learn. Just think, if we students were taught proper critical thinking and other learning habits at a young age you wouldn't need to spend so much time on mindless repetition and memorization, because we would be more adept at processing and absorbing the information the first time you show it to us. If we students were taught how to deal with our negative emotions better, we would be less likely to bully other students and act out in class to handle those feelings. If we students were taught how to communicate assertively, we would be better at standing up to bullies with our words instead of our fists. If we students were better at handling stress, anger, and sadness with proper coping skills, we wouldn't be having the numerous forms of mental breakdown that were currently having as we go through these challenging and crucial stages of our development. If you were giving us these important life lessons, we would be much better behaved and easier to work with all around, in addition to curbing the bloodshed caused by shooters. 

For this to work properly, it would all need to be carefully broken into age appropriate segments and structured in a way that fits the age group you're trying to teach. Everyone knows you'd never be able to teach proper stress management to a kindergartener, because kindergarteners aren't consciously aware of stress yet. You could begin to teach things like disciplined critical thinking and realistic goal setting to a kindergartener though. You could then enforce those lessons all through elementary school to better equip students with the mental skills we need to learn and complete our work effectively and efficiently. As students enter middle school, you could teach us lessons surrounding healthy interpersonal relationships, setting and enforcing boundaries, and effective communication as we begin to become more consciously aware of those key parts of our social lives. Finally, once we students start our trial run at adulthood in high school, we could really use lessons surrounding stress management, anger management, and healthy coping skills so we have the tools we need to survive in the grown-up world and resist the temptations of drugs and alcohol that we face every single day.

Please, I implore you to make these lessons a part of your future curriculum, for the good of us students and for your own. The safety and security of our schools is of utmost importance of course, but what good is protecting the schools if the lessons being taught within those walls aren't preparing us for our lives out in the real world? Thank you for your time, and I sincerely hope you consider this as you move forward with your extremely vital work.

Alley Mae