Educators and 9/11: Learning to teach the unthinkable
A symposium is being held in Jersey City July 1 on how to teach 9/11; while i pity the teachers that will attempt to teach the OCT to a generation avidly embracing the internet and wise to reality, critical thinking and the corporate govt/media conflicts and agenda, it is disturbing seeing well-funded attempts like this to indoctrinate the younger generations, the future of our nation, our posterity with evil lies. Similar to ABC's Path to 9/11 attempting to team up with Scholastic- they failed on the joint venture, i think- due to public outcry. Submit your comments if you have children and you care about the quality of their education, or if you don't have kids and just care about the health of society and the future of humanity.
Educators and 9/11: Learning to teach the unthinkable
Sunday, June 29, 2008
BY RUDY LARINI
It's right there, tucked away in the pages of newer American history textbooks, along with the American Revolution, slavery and the Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement and Vietnam.
The terrorist attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001, saw the destruction of the World Trade Center and the loss of 2,974 lives in New York, suburban Washington and Pennsylvania.
But somehow this history topic is different. More up close and personal.
Those other events in the text of the history book? They happened to someone else.
Not this one.
Nearly seven years after 9/11, American history teachers are still grappling with how to sum up a horrific event that students did not have to hear about from their parents.
On Tuesday, more than 100 educators and leaders in fields such as trauma, Holocaust studies and childhood learning are set to gather at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City for a daylong symposium on how best to teach the lessons of 9/11 and terrorism.
"What can we do to take a horrible occurrence and turn it into something positive?" Jeffrey Osowski, the science center's vice president of learning and teaching, said in describing the intent of the conference.
He said the symposium, which is by invitation and not open to the public, marks the jumping-off point for a yearlong effort by participants to develop a curriculum along with teacher training tools and methods for teaching the history of 9/11.
"This is the start of an initiative, as opposed to just simply a conference," Osowski said. "We're going to empower the teachers, and the teachers are going to empower the students."
He said that while some teachers struggle with how to teach 9/11, others may be avoiding the subject altogether.
"We're trying to say this shouldn't be avoided," he said. "There are lessons to be learned and we can draw positives from this."
One of the symposium presenters, Donna Gaffney of the International Trauma Studies Program launched at New York University, said it is especially hard for teachers to ignore 9/11 because its anniversary comes soon after the start of the new school year.
"9/11 is going to be forever linked to schools because when we come back to school, there it is, whether we want to talk about it or not," Gaffney said.
That is especially true in the metropolitan area, where disaster was in plain sight.
"It does certainly affect all of us who live in the tristate area more than someone who lives in Minnesota," Gaffney said. She likened it to the differing reactions to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
"We couldn't imagine what they experienced because we didn't live there and we didn't see it," she said.
AT A LOSS
As difficult as teaching 9/11 might be for a typical history teacher, it is particularly challenging for those whose students were personally affected by that day's loss.
"It certainly was difficult for the teachers to present the information with my children in their class," said Mary Ellen Salamone of North Caldwell, a mother of three, whose husband, 37-year-old John Patrick Salamone, was killed at the World Trade Center.
"Teachers who have a student who was affected by 9/11 are definitely at a loss," said Salamone, who will make a conference presentation on behalf of the support group Families of September 11.
Two of the Liberty Science Center exhibits that opened in the aftermath of 9/11 will be featured at the conference -- "Skyscrapers!," a study of tall buildings, and the traveling exhibit "Goosebumps, the Science of Fear."
"The iconic image of 9/11 is the World Trade Center collapsing," Osowski said in underscoring how relevant the "Skyscrapers!" exhibit is to the symposium. "We sort of have here the science of the iconic image of tall buildings. We want to use science as a platform for broader education. It was a natural for us."
The symposium is a collaborative effort of the science center, the Families of September 11 and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.
Paul Winkler, the commission's executive director, said there are parallels between the Holocaust and 9/11 in the exploration of man's inhumanity to man.
"It's the underlying causes that allow situations like 9/11 to occur or other atrocities and genocide," he said.
"The conference for us is a beginning point to gather information," he said. "It will set the tone. It will get people involved. That's why we're excited about the July 1 conference."
Rudy Larini may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (973) 392-4253.
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