This year, I am teaching fourth and sixth grade social science. Until this morning, I had not thought about including anything about September 11th in my lesson plans. The same thing happened after Labor Day; however, I realized the children needed to know how the Labor Movement fought for our rights, especially considering the currently many governors have tried to end collective bargaining.
My Labor Day lesson plans revolved around the photography of child labor by Lewis Hine. Children selected photos and completed analysis. We discussed how child labor and sweatshops still exist, and America’s appetite for cheap goods (yes, I mentioned Wal*Mart causing a shocked look in their eyes) continues the practice today.
How should I present information on the terrorist attacks of 9/11?
Sixth graders were born that year; fourth graders were not even alive. These children cannot conjure up the image over and over again in their brains of the World Trade Center towers being attacked. Do I show them videos of it?
What do I say about why it happened? What do I say about how we reacted? What do I say about Iraq and Afghanistan?
How do I explain that the worse terrorist attack in US history caused us to lose personal freedoms and rights?
The BBC has a rather benign site that explains the attacks. I suppose we will start there. I will share my own personal experience that day, nursing my little baby wondering what sort of world she would live in. As I wrote last year,
I still don’t know how to explain 9/11 to my children. Where to begin? Do we start with the Crusades or jump to Wilson’s League of Nations? How about the basic emotion of hate? Prejudice? Cultural insensitivity? Oil? Middle East policies? Israel? Terrorism? War? Love? Peace? Tolerance? Religion?
There are many wonderful resources available to help us teach the post 9/11 generation about the event. Teachinghistory.org is a rich source, as is the 9/11 Memorial site, where lesson plans include common core standards. One common theme is heroism. As individuals, our nations showed our strength. There were many heroes that day and for many days after, as we united to help the victims. As a government, I am not sure we had the same heroic response.
I suppose I will let the children lead the lesson and see where their tender hearts take us.