There is an expression in education that is called the "teachable moment." Robert Havighurst perhaps popularized the term in his 1952 book, "Human Development and Education." More recently, Beth Lewis has described the concept as, "an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students."
In this instance, the opportunity was a tragedy at the Boston Marathon, the day prior to the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre. Beth Lewis also says, "a teachable moment is not something that you plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher."
So what do we do? First, don't ignore the topic or pretend that it is not happening, Second, we must reassure students that they are safe.
As terrible as the literal and visual impact of this event may be, and as frequently as we may be seeing it, the chances of it involving them or their families is light being struck by lightning during a storm.
Third, there are many people…policemen, firemen, and soldiers…who are working day and night to make sure that they are safe. Fourth, parents and teachers need to take time to listen…let children talk and make every effort to respond to their questions and concerns. Fifth, don't avoid the issues of good and evil…there are evil people in the world who do unthinkable things but there are far more good people in the world who work to love and protect.
Teaching a lesson can be tough…learning one can be even harder!