Candid Teacher Admits: I killed a spider with my shoe. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Yesterday, I was in the middle of reading to my students when about 5 of them became wide-eyed and were animatedly pointing towards the white board. I paused to inquire why they were pointing, and they informed me that there was a spider. This spider was so small that I had to have a student come up and point to it in order for me to see it. However, as it was clearly distracting to the lesson, I took off my shoe and killed it.
Or so I thought.
A moment later, the wide-eyed looks returned and I saw the spider getting up… fiesty little thing! So again, I repeated the scene of taking off my shoe and killing it. This time I was certain it was dead.
I carried on reading and we discussed the book as a group. Then, a student raised her hand and said, “Why did you kill that spider? It wasn’t doing anything to us,”
I was dumbfounded. This child was correct – the spider meant no harm and spiders actually help the environment (my father, an entomologist, would be proud of me here). Despite this knowledge, my first instinct was to smash the heck out of that spider. I faultered, trying to explain why I killed the spider. I could say, “Because I think they’re gross,” but my student’s question was so profoundly honest that I didn’t feel that would suffice.
All I could muster was that the spider was inside where it did not belong, but if the spider had been outside, we could have left it alone. I also reinforced that yes, she was right, the spider was not doing anything wrong. I told her that I would have taken it outside (white lie, sorry!) if I did not have to stay with the class. Unfortunately, we were inside and it was inopportune to leave the building; therefore we could not take the spider outside.
Even now, a day later, I still don’t feel this was an adequate explanation. Just because someone or something is in the “wrong place” or somewhere you deem it “doesn’t belong” doesn’t mean it should be forced to leave, or in this case, get killed. While I would still kill that spider again because spiders really do just freak me out, I am so proud of this student for being such an empathetic and caring person.
To that student: Thank you for enabling me to see the beauty in something that I dislike so greatly!