As we move through the years something strange has happened for me as a teacher on this day. While it is easier to "talk" about-as time heals wounds and likely makes us less anxious as a whole as well, it's harder because our audience has changed. What do I mean by that? As I gathered my students this year, not one had even the faintest memory of the day, in fact only 2 of them were actually alive. In years past, I recall having students talk about seeing their parents cry while watching the tv, or being told that the tv would be off for the day. They had some memory, no matter how faint. But now it's different, and forever will be.
Just because students don't recall the actual events, doesn't mean we shouldn't teach it and acknowledge it. That would be the equivalent of cutting history from our curriculum, right? 9/11 might not even be in the books yet. So what did we do?
The boys came to advisory this morning and were asked to check in by acknowledging someone or some people who they consider heroes. Awareness that it was 9/11 certainly put a spin on their responses as they were all related. Firefighters, military persons, military veterans, SEAL teams, office "guards"... When we do this activity non related to 9/11 we tend to get a few others such as family members, and historical figures (and the occasional sports figure). But I would imagine that somewhere in the last 24 hours they were reminded by someone that the world changed 12 years ago on this day.
After checking in we talked about qualities that make heroes, whip-sharing our thoughts (brave, courageous, thoughtful, putting their own needs behind the needs of others) before watching a brainpop on 9/11. The boys listened as they were led through the attacks of 9/11 in an age appropriate cartoon style movie. In conclusion, I asked "What are some other situations where communities have come together based on tragedy, where people have down courageous acts, where communities have come out stronger because of it?" Dark Knight Movie Shooting in Colorado, Newtown Ct shooting, Boston Marathon Bombing, recent fires in yosemite, earthquakes and house fires... they named a few.
It was simple, it was thoughtful, and it led to an age appropriate discussion. I just hope the students and parents know know that we don't teach 9/11 to scare them, but that we teach 9/11 to let them know that our country is full of strong people that do our best to keep them safe, no matter what.