Ten years after the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA, teachers struggle with some tough questions:
- “How do you teach about 9/11 in a meaningful way?”
- “What lessons do I want my students to take away from that event?”
- “How do explain 9/11 [to a specific age group]?
- “Who is Osama bin Laden?”
Checking the websites for Los Gatos – Saratoga Union High School District, Campbell Union High School District and Eastside Union High School districts’ websites I found no information regarding September 11. According the San Jose Mercury, most states let the school districts decide what to teach.
Here are 3 organizations that have created teaching materials for grades k-12:
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, offers lesson plans, teaching guides, discussion guides and webcasts for K-12 teachers. Plans are broken into grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
- Community and Conflict
- Historical Impact
- Heroes and Service
- Memory and Memorialization
PBS.org offers the American Responds lesson plans focusing on peace, tolerance, war, patriotism and geography. Lesson plans are organized topically and cover the following:
- Afghanistan Today: Civil War and Human Rights – Grades 9-12
- Afghanistan And Its Neighbors: Model Summit Grades 11-12
- A World At Peace Grades 2-6
- A Nation of Many Cultures Grades K- 5
- Tolerance in Times of Trial Grades 6-12
- Emergency Preparedness Grades 6-8
- Taming Terrorism Grades 9 -12
- The American Flag Grades Pre-K – 5
- Conflicting Views Grades 2 – 5
New Jersey’s Department of Education created the first statewide 9/11 curriculum. It is a combined effort of the State of New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, “Families of September 11” members, volunteer educators and the Liberty Science Center. Lessons are intended for grades K – 12.
- Human Behavior
- From Playground to World Stage: Aggression, Hostility and Terrorism
- The Historical Context of Terrorism
- 9/11/01: A Contemporary Case Study
- Consequences and Challenges in a Post 9/11 World
- Remembrance and Public Memory
- Building Better Futures: Narrative, Recovery and Responsibility
Regardless of what teachers tell their students about the attacks, the 9/11 tragedy is an extremely complex issue: America was caught offguard on September 11. Wars continue in Iraq and Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is dead. Airport security policies continue to evolve. It’s too early to draw hard and fast conclusions, but instead look at this 10th anniversary as an opportunity for discussion and debate.