If you are my age or older and American, then you were probably in elementary school during the Cold War. If you went to a public school, there is a good chance you remember this rule: If there is a nuclear attack, you should stay calm and get underneath your desk!
Your probably remember this mainly because as you got older there came a point where you thought: “WHAT THE HELL? How is a desk supposed to protect me if a nuclear bomb explodes anywhere near where I am?” So, usually by middle school and certainly by high school this became the brunt of many jokes. It became an example of how stupid and ridiculous adults are, or how stupid and ridiculous the public school system is, or whatever.
It still comes up in the world today. As recently as a few years ago, Jody Williams gave a speech at a UN conference in which she said, “I was part of the ‘duck and cover’ generation in the US. We were taught at school how to duck under our desks in case of nuclear war. It is not only ludicrous to think that you can protect yourself from nuclear weapons by getting under your desk—it is outrageous to think that any child, anywhere, should have to worry about dying because of nuclear weapons.”
Her second point is a good one. Children shouldn’t have to worry about that kind of thing. But I’m surprised that she hasn’t, as an adult, figured out what was going on with “duck and cover”. It was never meant to shield children from a nuclear blast.
COME ON! You are an adult now. Think about it for just a second from an adult perspective.
You are in charge of a school or a classroom, and there has just been an announcement that the United States is under nuclear attack. You don’t know how far away the nearest bomb will hit, you don’t know whether parents have been notified, you don’t really know anything yet, except that in all likelihood people are going to completely freak out.
What does it accomplish if each child hiding under his or her desk?
1) You don’t have children running down the halls screaming
2) You don’t have children hiding in unknown places where you can’t find them
3) You can easily see who might be missing by looking to see which desks don’t have a child under them
It’s a way of keeping order and calm. It’s a way of making sure children don’t go missing in a panic before their parents show up. It’s the single most obvious and sensible thing to do, from an adult administrative perspective.
Of course it wasn’t explained this way to you when you were a kid, because you were a kid.
Sure, when you were a teenager it was fun to make fun of the st00pid adults who thought that a wooden desk would protect you from a nuclear bomb. Ha, ha.
But now that you’re an adult, can’t you see it?
It really just takes a moment of thought.
File this under: If you think something is obviously stupid, there is a good chance you got it wrong.