Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teaching 9/11

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks nears, and as teachers and scholars try again to make sense of it all, it might be helpful to look back at what happened in classrooms across the country ten years ago.  Here is a snippet from my Forward to a new issue of the Organization of American Historians Magazine of History, September 11:  Ten Years After, which has just been published.  For this excerpt, I relied on materials at the September 11 Digital Archive.  I draw from the same sources in chapter 4 of War Time.
In classrooms across the country on September 11, 2001, lesson plans were abruptly abandoned. Students and teachers gathered around televisions, sharing the sense that “history” was being made before their eyes. Patricia Latessa, a Cincinnati high school teacher, turned on the cafeteria television “and watched history unfold.” She reflected as she watched about how the scenes of airplanes flying into buildings would impact her students. “The world they knew was bifurcated, cut in half, a time before and a time after”. An unsettling day seemed to require upsetting usual practices. The British Literature teacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, in Omaha, Nebraska, burst into a French class during an exam, and turned on the television. At another high school, the principal ordered that the televisions be turned off at midday. Colin Riebel later recalled: “We, the students, revolted. We argued this was a huge part of our history and we had a right to know what was happening to our country. The school complied and let us watch the news again”.
Continue reading here.  Cross-posted from the Legal History Blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment