For Teachers and Reporters, an Uneasy Anniversary
Think again. There are fifth-graders who were born the year the World Trade Center tumbled down. There are high school sophomores for whom the terror of that day is a hazy kindergarten memory.
So it won’t be easy for every teacher who chooses to talk about Sept. 11 with their students to convey the magnitude of those events, as the Washington Post chronicled only two years ago. Resources are available, but so far, only New Jersey appears to have an official curriculum on the terrorist attack.
In fact, according to research from Diana Hess of the University of Wisconsin and Jeremy Stoddard of William and Mary College, schools often skirt the controversial aspects of 9-11, including the exploration of terrorism and its definitions. Only four of nine textbooks even described how many people were killed and who was responsible, according to a Social Education article they wrote in 2007.
That’s a critical question for reporters to ask teachers: How are they going to approach the tragedy? Dorie Turner of the Associated Press has been working on a comprehensive story that will run Sept. 3 and that’s her top recommendation: Talk to as many teachers as possible, get as many voices into your stories as you can.
Here are some groups that have developed resources that can help you get started:
- This is a terrific wrap-up by a teacher blogger of the resources on various sites, including the New York Times, PBS, the Anti-Defamation League, and the state of New Jersey curriculum.
- The Sept. 11 Education Trust, founded by Anthony Gardner, whose brother, Harvey, died in the World Trade Center, released its curriculum in 2009, and it was written about by several news organizations, including the Washington Post above and U.S. News and World Report.
- The September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance website also provides a comprehensive list of resources available as you covering teaching about 9-11.
- And New Jersey provides lesson plans, just released in July, on how to teach about Sept. 11.