Lessons of Policing and Exclusion

Pedagogical Probabilities Present in Active Shooter Training

  • Eric Ferris Eastern Michigan University
Keywords: Fear, Survillance, Exclusion, Democracy


While active shooter training in schools is socially framed as a necessary response to the perception that our educational institutions are inherently dangerous to our children, this paper provides an alternate read that hopefully leads to critical conversations about such training and practices. It situates active shooter training squarely in the ever-expanding culture of fear that has prompted the usurping of various freedoms in exchange for greater levels of security through institutional and intrapersonal policing. In framing episodes of violence as expected and expanding the possibility of who perpetrates violence to include everyone, active shooter training is able to construct a rational justification for furthering hypervigilance and exhaustive surveillance. At the same time, it can be argued that such inclusive and boundless understandings of violence, especially when considering related pedagogical messages in the context of schooling and students, constructs a reality in which trust in others is a casualty, that surveillance is not simply institutional but instead an individual reality in which people normatively monitor one another, and in general, where difference is the impetus for the construction of metaphorical walls. And while these have been the responses to danger present in the commodified and individualized social world, it is important to question whether both the means and ends are justified. If democratic interaction is understood as requiring, among other things, attention to difference and dialogue, can democracy, let alone the expansion of democratic possibilities, exist in a reality in which these things are feared and avoided? Can schools, as sites where democratic interactions can be practiced, carry out this vital function if these needs are viewed in contention with or even subordinate to safety, as defined as furthering fear, policing, and exclusion?


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How to Cite
Ferris, E. (2019). Lessons of Policing and Exclusion. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(3), 25-43. https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.03.02.2