September’s Most Popular Reads | The Sun Magazine
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September’s Most Popular Reads

September 29, 2022

This month’s most popular selections are united by common themes: violence and education. In “Why Schools Don’t Educate,” 1989 New York City Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto argues that schools distort students’ lives, cutting them off from meaningful knowledge of themselves and of society.

In “Dawn and Mary,” Brian Doyle reflects on the self-sacrifice of two teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary, who sprang into action when they heard the pop of gunshots down the hall. Those shots echo through a 2015 Readers Write feature in which contributors recount what they’ve learned from experiences they’ve had — often against their will — with sudden disruptive sounds.

Finally, in “We Would Never Sleep” poet David Hernandez considers what might happen if we were forced to truly reckon with the effects of gun violence in America.

Schoolyard overflowing with boys.

© William Carter

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Why Schools Don’t Educate

Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to an unprecedented degree; nobody talks to them anymore. Without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the term “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that.

By John Taylor GattoJune 1990
Outside a school building with the flag at half-mast.

© Morgan Tyree

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Dawn and Mary

The next time someone says the word hero to you, you say this: There once were two women. One was named Dawn, and the other was named Mary. They both had two daughters. They both loved to kneel down to care for small beings. They leapt from their chairs and ran right at the boy with the rifle, and if we ever forget their names, if we ever forget the wind in that hallway, if we ever forget what they did, if we ever forget that there is something in us beyond sense and reason that snarls at death and runs roaring at it to defend children, if we ever forget that all children are our children, then we are fools who have allowed memory to be murdered too, and what good are we then? What good are we then?

By Brian DoyleAugust 2013
A young girl screaming near an older girl who has her eyes closed and looks frustrated.

© Nora Sweeny

Readers Write


At the baby shower for a co-worker, my officemates and I stood around the conference room, picking at a spread of meatballs, cheese cubes, and pasta salad. Suddenly one of the balloons popped, and I ducked. My officemates, who hadn’t even flinched, laughed. I joked that I was from the ’hood, where you have to take cover when you hear gunshots, and they laughed harder.

By Our ReadersOctober 2015
A clock set in a sidewalk at 3:01 PM with passersby evidenced by their shadows.

© Martin Fishman


from We Would Never Sleep

You know that shooting last week?
I will admit the number dead
was too low to startle me
if you admit you felt the same,
and the person standing by you
agrees, and the person beside that person.
It has to be double digits,
don’t you think? To really
shake up your afternoon?

By David HernandezJuly 2015
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