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The Next Generation

Throughout the course of this year, I have certainly learned one thing: September 11, 2001 is not a date in history, it is a date that is still very much ‘alive’ in the hearts of Americans. Although this year was the 10th anniversary, and  a valid reason to celebrate, or rather commemorate, it still seems odd to me that 9/11 is as widely discussed in terms of a current topic as it is. This concept was the inspiration behind my second oral report topic. I wanted to research how 9/11 is taught to children who were not alive ten years ago. It seems like when learning about a topic in school, it would be considered a history lesson, but my observation about 9/11  is that it will be many years into the future before 9/11 is history. Therefore, my approach was to interview three different schools – one in South Carolina, one in Virginia, and one in New York. I wanted to see if their lesson plan approaches were a-typical of a history lesson or if 9/11 was deemed something higher.

Here are my results:

Lugoff, South Carolina –

I was in third grade at Lugoff Elementary when the planes hit the Twin Towers. All I can remember was Mrs. Hopkins, my teacher at the time, ending out lesson and cutting on the television because an announcement came over the intercom to do so. Over the years, I have always kept in touch with her, and to this day she remains one of my favorite teachers. Therefore, when I emailed her asking for help with the project, she was all too thrilled to respond. Now that my rambling is over with, I can actually explain what my old school does to teach 9/11. As I expected, 9/11 is not taught as a history lesson; it is something that my school commemorates on a yearly basis.

Lynchburg, Virginia –

I feel the urge to start this off with “Unfortunately,” which could be an entire discussion on its own. Anyways, the Lynchburg school that I looked at was completely tied to standards, which do not include 9/11. Although they are not commemorating the event like South Carolina, Virginia has deemed 9/11 as ‘non-historic’ as well. If it were already considered an event in history, it would be included in the state standards.

New York, New York –

I am not completely sure whether I was surprised about the ‘lesson’ for New York, or if it was what I expected. However, 9/11 is a much more discussion oriented topic rather than a lesson. Each year on September 11th, or the closest school date to the 11th, the teachers of an elementary school in New York briefly talk about it with their students and ask if there are any questions.

These three responses were extremely different, and I became exceedingly frustrated that they differed so much because I thought my project was now pointless; that this was something that cannot quite be discussed yet. Then, after a bit of thinking I developed a theory as to why they differed. I believe that is mentioned in New York because it happened there. It is something extremely intimate to New York, and therefore deserves to be mentioned.  However, connected with this idea of intimacy, is the idea that 9/11 is a touchy subject. Therefore, it is discussed with great caution. Lynchburg is just far enough away that it is not a ‘required’ thing to commemorate, but it is just close enough to respectfully avoid. As for South Carolina, I believe we are far enough from New York that 9/11 seems like something unreal, and therefore it is commemorated with great respect.

Although that seems like a lot now, it really was not that much. Therefore, I also googled “how to teach children about 9/11” and came up with the New Jersey Curriculum. So, here is the link to the entire article, although I’m sure you will not want to read ALL of it, it was very interested and you should at least take a peak at it.

http://www.state.nj.us/education/holocaust/911/k12curr.pdf

This is also a news article talking a bit about it:

http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/news/2011/08/how-do-you-teach-911-to-those-too-young-to-remember-it/

Sorry there were not a lot of pretty pictures to make all of this information a bit less painful. Hope you enjoyed this post (:

 

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