Teachers prepare for 10th anniversary of Sept. 11

“I think a lot of teachers are looking for things to compare 9-11 to, in a way. I don’t think there’s any exact parallel in history. It’s one of those horrible events that nobody could imagine would ever happen,” she said. “What I did in thinking about this was to pick out some themes in American history that I think you can use throughout the school year to make parallels to this event.”

She proposed themes such as resilience in times of hardship, the government’s balancing of the need to protect its citizens’ safety and also protect their civil rights, and America and international law.

“I think one of the hardest things for teachers to face is teaching something they remember personally, and yet most students have no memory of it at all,” Brodsky Schur said. “It’s an unusual juncture in history.”

NCSS President-Elect Sue Blanchette has used personal stories to engage students who had no recollection of the day the Twin Towers fell.

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Resources for teaching about 9-11

“At the time of 9-11, my son-in-law was an Air Force pilot, so he was able to give me some insights on what it was like to fly the skies when nothing was out there,” Blanchette said. She encouraged the use of personal stories to bring the day alive for classes.

“We owe it as adults to try and make things like this real for students,” Blanchette said. “They live in a world that has been impacted by this event, but they might not realize it. To them it’s perfectly normal to take their shoes off when they go through the airport. They don’t know that there was a time when that didn’t happen; when you could go to the gate and wave your friends off. So we feel students need to understand how this changed the world that they live in.”

While she said it’s important to express national sentiment, she said teachers can’t let those feelings interfere with teaching the facts.

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