“The most important thing to remember when presenting 9/11 to students of any age, Stout and Loisel agreed, is sensitivity . . .
“Age-appropriateness is stressed at all levels, Stout said, and teachers are strongly encouraged to limit the use of graphic or violent images in the classroom.
“Christine Aragon, a ninth- and 10th-grade American history and government teacher at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City, said she’ll use before and after images of Ground Zero and the Pentagon, but that’s it.” -Teaching a tragedy: Sept. 11 in schools
Figuring out how to teach 9/11 has been a growing process in the last 10 years. I was in school on September 11, 2001 and the teacher struggled to explain terrorism to a room full of 10 year olds. I was suprised to find in discussions since then that a lot of schools didn’t breech the topic at all.
Fourth graders and up were informed about the attacks at my school and they did so with varying levels of success. Since then, we covered 9/11 every year. In 8 or 9th grade, I first saw the footage of the people jumping out of the twin towers. There was less sensitivity, I think, because we lived through it and because it was still so fresh in everyone’s mind.
I tend to forget that children in elementary school and high school don’t remember Sept. 11. As shocking as the violent images and tragic stories were to me, I can only imagine their impact on children who were not there when the events took place. I guess that September 11, 2001 is now an official part of history.
Children will grow up only seeing before and after photos much like I grew up only hearing stories about the Kennedy assassination and other tragedies that happened in my families’ lifetimes. I can only feel a unattached sort of sorrow when I hear their stories. The children of today will be the same about 9/11. It’s a natural progression of moving on.
I imagine that teachers will struggle, as there is a sort of catharsis in reliving the day that everything changed. The students of today need to understand the gravity of what happened, and I’m not sure if they will just seeing before and after photos.