Teaching About 9/11 | Connecticut Public Radio

Teaching About 9/11

Sep 9, 2011

As the nation prepares to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11th,  Connecticut schools are holding special assemblies and classroom discussions. We report on some of the challenges facing educators who teach students about 9/11, and the larger issues that surround the historic event.

"I began teaching it in 2001, the day after." Mark Gabriel teaches World History and US Foreign Policy at Hamden High School.  He says just after September 11th his students brought their lived experiences and memories into the classroom.  "Today, my students were three years old when 9 /11  happened and their memories are all across the board."

It's important that teachers negotiate that gap between what they experienced and what students are learning, says Dr. Allan Marcus, an associate professor in the NEAG School of Education at the University of Connecticut. "They have to understand how are teachers’ own methods and the way they talk about it being shaped by the fact they lived through it compared to the students who haven’t."

Debates continue over how deeply to delve into the complexity of the attacks.  There are plenty of curricular materials for teachers to draw from, but a study by scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the College of William and Mary finds that school textbooks often lack specific detail and seem to shy away from engaging kids in controversy over 9/11.  

In Connecticut, local districts decide how to address September 11th.  Younger children may learn about the spirit of patriotism, while older students analyze what happened and connect it to world events today.