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Teachers Are Figuring Out How to Handle 9/11

Eleven years later, teachers are starting to develop strategies for dealing with such an emotionally and politically charged event.


Eleven years after 9/11, figuring out how and what to teach about the tragedy is still a challenge for the nation's educators. Textbooks don't always include what happened, teachers worry about seeming partisan or inciting anti-Muslim sentiment, and today's K-12 kids were either toddlers or not even born when 9/11 happened.

To make teaching such a tough subject more straightforward a project started last year by the New York Times Learning Network wanted to provide teachers with the materials they needed to ensure students could answer one key question: How did 9/11 change the world? To that end, the Times compiled an excellent list of resources from its own coverage and other places around the web. They also asked teachers to send in their ideas for teaching 9/11, and now, on this 11th anniversary, the Times is sharing some of the best ones they received over the past year.

One of the ideas, a collaborative video remembrance project, was created by teachers at five high schools in Iowa and Kansas. Their teachers came up with the project because they felt "a need to impress upon students a sense of empathy for an event that most were too young to remember."

The teachers had students do research on 9/11 using online resources, including those from the Times. Students' responses to discussion questions were put together into a free-verse poem, which was then turned into the video you see above. It's pretty inspiring to see the students' thoughts about 9/11 and what it means to them along with the words and images on their hands and arms. Even though it's no easy task to teach such an emotionally charged event, these teachers deserve plenty of praise for trying something new and facilitating their students' understanding of and emotional connection to what happened. Let's hope more teachers do the same so that what we say we'll "never forget" truly isn't forgotten.

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