In the wake of the horrific acts of terrorism in Paris, the hierarchy of Bologna University today instructed teachers to devote at least an hour’s time in the classroom to discuss the implications of and possible responses to this violence. The thinking behind this is well-intentioned but the practicalities are more than a little problematic.
Of course, in the long-term, we need to do more than change our profile picture on Facebook and light candles for the victims.
But what exactly are the parameters to such proposed discussions? What should be the responses to hate speak (e.g. All Muslims are scum) or apocalyptic solutions (e.g. Nuke Syria).
Such extreme reactions are understandable but should not be endorsed or legitimized. The role of informed, calm-headed facilitator in any such debate is therefore crucial, but who moderates the moderators?
Teachers may be trained to impart facts about their specialist subjects but this does not automatically mean they have pearls of wisdom to offer to students on such political hot potatoes.
They may be older but this not necessarily make them wiser.
Talking is better than rushing to revenge but when wounds are still raw initiating an open-ended discussion could open up a can of worms that is hard to seal.