On November 13, 2015, a series of ter- rorist attacks in Paris killed 130 people and injured another 368. As was the case with the assault on Charlie Hebdo just ten months prior, the November attacks both rattled and cast a spotlight on our school community. While we
kept sensationalist press at bay, one outlet collaborated
thoughtfully with us. On November 16, Youth Radio's
editor Brett Myer and reporter Kasey Saeturn interviewed
teacher Laurent Scotto di Uccio and four members of the
Class of 2017 to get an understanding of how we were
discussing the terrible events in Paris, within our classrooms. Here's the transcription.
CLASSROOM REACTIONS: STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
DISCUSS THE PARIS ATTACKS
NOVEMBER 18, 2015 BY KASEY SAETURN
FEATURED ON NPR/WBUR'S "HEAR AND NOW"
Just blocks from Twitter's headquarters and City Hall,
the French American International School feels very San
Francisco. So San Francisco, the school bell even sounds
like the city's famous cable cars.
The school is also pretty French. Out of about 1,100
students, most speak the language. Many have family
and friends in France. So on Monday morning, November 16, instead of playing in the yard before school,
elementary students reported directly to class to meet
Laurent Scotto di Uccio, who teaches 5th grade
French, describes the encounter with his students: "So,
my first question was, 'Why are you here?' So the kids
were like, 'We don't know yet.' So I said, 'I don't know
if you know, but something happened in
Paris and in Lebanon not long ago. Did
you hear about it?'"
All 44 of his students knew about the
attacks already, so he prompted them:
"Okay, can somebody tell me what hap-pened?"
One by one, the ten- and 11-year-olds
started describing the attacks in their own
words. But they quickly moved to more
complicated issues, like ISIS. The class
also discussed why the bombings in Lebanon didn't receive the same attention.
Di Uccio was surprised that the discus-
sion wasn't about black and white, good
vs. evil. "As an adult and as an educator,
it's hard to talk about things that are emotionally impact-
ing you. And they were," he said. "People died. But in
the meantime, you don't want to impose anything on
your students. You don't want to be in a place where you
tell them what they have to think about things. So that
was a time that you remember for a while as a teacher."
Older students, like 15-year-old Barbara ' 17, were
worried about the West's reaction to the attacks.
"I'm going to be a terrible person and plug something
that we learned in US History a week ago," she said.
"FDR's quote of, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear
Fourteen-year-old Simon ' 17 says he's not really afraid
of the terrorists. He's most afraid that the political power
could shift in France, empowering French far-right parties like the National Front. "If we start to get corrupted,
like politically inside the country, it might be very
dangerous," he said. "As a half-French, half-American
citizen, I might lose my nationality."
But for 17-year-old junior Lorenz ' 17, losing sight of
the bigger picture is what concerns him. "The main goal
of a terrorist attack is to instill fear, and also secondly to
expect a response from the country that you attack," he
said. "So, on their extremist websites, they take things
we do in the West and spin the story in a way to make it
look like we're bad people. And that's how they recruit
people. What we have to watch out for is that we don't
play into their hands."
The students we talked to said they hope the reaction
from France and the West isn't an over-reaction. They
said we don't need another 9/11.
EDITORS: BRETT MYERS, REBECCA MARTIN
PRODUCER: BRETT MYERS
TO LISTEN TO THE STORY, GO TO: goo.gl/kgNØzr
Youth Radio interviews Barbara, Sophia, Lorenz, and Simon (Class of 2017)