published Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Teachers have difficulty incorporating September 11 into curriculum

Principal Zacery Brown and members of the East Ridge High School JROTC salute as the American flag is raised Friday. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at East Ridge High School hosted a Sept. 11 memorial on the school's football field Friday morning. Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and East Ridge's Mayor Brent Lambert spoke during the memorial.
Principal Zacery Brown and members of the East Ridge High School JROTC salute as the American flag is raised Friday. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at East Ridge High School hosted a Sept. 11 memorial on the school's football field Friday morning. Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and East Ridge's Mayor Brent Lambert spoke during the memorial.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
September 11, 2001, remembered

Simon Parker was only in kindergarten when terrorists hijacked four jetliners and caused mass destruction in lower Manhattan, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Though he was only five years old at the time, Parker says some things about that day stick out in his mind.

"I just remember my dad watching the TV. Nobody was talking," the 15-year-old said. "I didn't know why, but I knew I wasn't supposed to talk."

Parker, now a sophomore at McCallie School, said the topic of Sept. 11 hasn't come up very often in his classes in the decade since the attacks.

"It's definitely talked about the week of," he said.

The horrific events of that day were no doubt the stuff of history books, but that doesn't mean the subject has found a home in many area classrooms. Ten years after terrorists orchestrated the deaths of almost 3,000 innocents, Tennessee doesn't require a lesson on Sept. 11 for students of any grade or in any subject area. Teachers are left to decide how they bring up the event, if at all.

Georgia mentions Sept. 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in its state standards. But Dan Torrenti, chairman of the social studies department at LaFayette High School, said individual teachers usually decide how much attention to give each historical or current event.

"That's part of the problem in standardizing or trying to quantify the humanities," he said. "You're always going to have some things that don't get in there."

Increasing pressure to improve results on state standardized tests causes some teachers to put aside events like 9/11.

"There's not much freelance time to go off and spend time on a current event," he said.

Local Observance

In Hamilton County, some schools held memorial services this week and some teachers or schools created Sept. 11 activities and assignments. But teachers said the event can sometimes seem too old to be taught as a current event and too young to be taught as history.

"For most schools, particularly middle and elementary schools, if they're going to do something, they would probably do it closer to 9/11," said Gloria Moore, humanities supervisor for the Hamilton County Department of Education.

While the event will likely be required in U.S. history courses in the future, it isn't part of the state's current curriculum, Moore said. Some social studies or history textbooks include small sections on Sept. 11 or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but there's no current requirement by the state that the subject is taught.

Textbooks, and social studies curriculum will be revised next year, when Tennessee is likely to include Sept. 11 in its state teaching standards.

"We expect any future curriculum will include a section on 9/11," said Kelli Gauthier, communications director for the Tennessee State Department of Education.

RELATED ARTICLE

McCallie grad recalls 9/11 attacks


COMING UP

Today: What are schools teaching about 9/11?

-- Braves players remember playing the first sporting event in NYC after 9/11

-- Anniversary presents challenges to clergy, E1

Sunday: Forever changed: How has 9/11 change our world 10 years later? News

-- Sept. 11 attacks drive young man to join the Marines, News

-- Q&A with Chattanooga resident Gen. (Ret.) B.B. Bell, News

-- Transplanted New Yorkers now living in Chattanooga talk about their memories of 9/11, E1

-- A decade later, it's hard to say how safe we are, F1


GEORGIA REQUIREMENTS

• Fifth grade -- The student will trace important developments in America since 1975. Describe U.S. involvement in world events; include efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Persian Gulf War, and the War on Terrorism in response to September 11, 2001.

• U.S. History -- The student will describe changes in national politics since 1968. Analyze the response of President George W. Bush to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the United States, the war against terrorism, and the subsequent American interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: Georgia Performance Standard


HOW THEY COMMEMORATED 9/11

• Students at Signal Mountain Middle/High School commemorated the 10-year anniversary by holding a "silent fire drill," walking 2,977 steps outside to represent the number of those killed in the terrorists attacks. They followed the exercise with a writing/reflection assignment.

• Students in one Hunter Middle School class took home a timeline of Sept. 11 events and interviewed anyone 18 or older about their thoughts and emotions. They'll follow that up with a class discussion and a written summary on Monday.

• Sequoyah High School students participated in a "Patriot Day," dressing in red, white and blue. Teachers reviewed flag etiquette and asked students to display American flags at home this week. Students also completed essays and held class discussions about their memories of the day the attacks happened.

• Hixson High School held an anniversary program Friday, featuring a slideshow presentation, guest speakers, musical ensembles and a bagpipe player. The school will also display a Sept. 11 commemorative sculpture from Hixson graduate Jack Denton, who created the piece for the one-year anniversary.

• East Ridge High School Junior ROTC students hosted a commemoration ceremony Friday morning for the entire student body that included an address from former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp.

• Ooltewah High School's JROTC participated in a morning memorial service. Students commemorated the event with a flag ceremony with "Taps" played on the bugle. Throughout the day, students stood guard over a small memorial that included candles, posters and a sign with the names of all those killed on 9/11.

East Lake Elementary School teacher Pam Thompson said Sept. 11 is briefly addressed in fifth graders' 419-page history books -- a two-page section, called the "War on Terror," appears on page 398.

"It's in the very back of the book," she said.

The lesson includes information on George W. Bush's presidency and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Thompson said the subjects' placement means many teachers won't get that far by the end of school.

Elementary students are too young to remember back to 2001 and many weren't even born, she said.

"It changed things forever, but these children are living in a world where things have always been changed," Thompson said.

She acknowledged, though, that many teachers probably don't give the topic the attention it deserves.

"I know that I haven't taught it as it needs to be taught," she said.

Thompson, in her 37th year of teaching, said teachers struggle to meet state requirements on tests, which can allow events like Sept. 11 to fall off the radar. Plus, she said, some teachers might be wary to approach the subject, which is filled with violence, death and destruction.

"It's terrifying," she said. "It could really upset our younger children."

That's why it's important that teachers are prepared to reassure and instruct students in the days surrounding the 10-year anniversary, said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala.

"Our big concern is making kids feel safe, but also giving them the information to navigate the world," she said. "You can't pretend it didn't happen, but at the same time, they shouldn't have information overload."

Teaching Tolerance has published a guide to teaching Sept. 11 history this year. With a likely saturation of images and stories about the terrorist attacks in the media, Costello said few kids will be sheltered from the topic.

"This is going to land in people's laps whether they like it or not," she said. "9/11 is going to walk into every classroom this year."

John Eric Miller, a McCallie sophomore, needs little reminder of the images from that day. It's all he can remember.

"Once I got home, we never turned the TV off," he said. "It was just a constant stream of images."

Miller, 15, said he had no idea what was going on that day. But he can still remember the "general horror."

"I just saw this unbelievable, incomprehensible thing going on," he said.

Fitting It In

While most of his students have some recollection of the day that shocked the nation, LaFayette's Torrenti said he sees their interest wane as students become more distanced from the event with each passing year.

"It goes from a current event they can connect with to something they are going to have to learn about," he said.

John Daum, a philosophy, speech, journalism and world religion teacher at Central High School in Hamilton County, said he works topics like 9/11 into many of his classes.

His speech students study President Bush's addresses following the attacks. Religion students discuss the relationships between Muslims and Christians immediately following the event. His philosophy classes debate the ethics of torturing those believed to have information about national security threats.

But some students still have trouble connecting with the topic.

"It's not as significant of a day for them as it is for me. And I think that's just because their ages when it happened," he said.

Daum, 41, said he wonders if his students' reactions are similar to his own feelings about Pearl Harbor or the Vietnam War.

"These are things I've heard people talk about a lot, but I didn't experience them," he said.

He said he's noticed that more and more students consider the events of Sept. 11 to be a government conspiracy or cover-up. He estimates that as many as one-quarter of his students hold that viewpoint.

"Every year, students seem to struggle more and more with the gravity of it because they didn't live through it," he said. "They don't think the official story is what really happened."

Still, he said the ongoing wars and constant tension in the Middle East can help keep the topic relevant for students. While his courses touch a variety of themes surrounding Sept. 11, Daum said there's one message he tries to bring home to his classes.

"I try to get them to appreciate how much things have changed since then," he said, "because they don't have a sense of what things looked like before 9/11."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

6
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
rkeefe57 said...

Always seems a little ironic for the SPLC to host a "Teaching Tolerance" program when not one of its own executives is a minority.

In fact, the SPLC has never hired a person of color to a highly paid position of authority in its entire 40 year history. The executive suite is as white today as it was in 1971.

Some "tolerance."

http://wp.me/pCLYZ-7m

September 10, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
rolando said...

rkeefe, you are a race-baiter. We need less of that, not more.

See for photos: http://www.splcenter.org/who-we-are/leadership

Off-hand, I would say those are positions with some small measure of authority and are probably highly paid to boot.

Their bios do not specifically identify them by race, ethnic background, or minority status but one picture is worth...

September 10, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.

In fact, the SPLC has never hired a person of color to a highly paid position of authority in its entire 40 year history. The executive suite is as white today as it was in 1971. (rkeefe)

Why mrskeeffe i learned from the Oprahi show that folks now have many ancestors. missOprah sure did teach us alot that day. she had white lookin folks on one end and dark lookin folks on the other and what do you thunk?! the white lookin ones had dark ancestors and the dark ones had white folks way back ther!

i also noticed today (cause im not dark hehe) that alot of dark folks that i want to be friends with dont want to and call me white trash and magazine butt and all. I also noticed ifn your whiter lookin, we cant get the same programs of help that dark folks can and mrpresident and michelle sure like to give alot of jobs to only dark people but mrP is white and dark. funny, hehe huh?

September 10, 2011 at 6:22 p.m.

Daum, 41, said he wonders if his students' reactions are similar to his own feelings about Pearl Harbor or the Vietnam War. "These are things I've heard people talk about a lot, but I didn't experience them," he said. He said he's noticed that more and more students consider the events of Sept. 11 to be a government conspiracy or cover-up. He estimates that as many as one-quarter of his students hold that viewpoint. "Every year, students seem to struggle more and more with the gravity of it because they didn't live through it," he said. "They don't think the official story is what really happened." (teacher Duam)

well MrDaumteacher, i heard tell that kids everwhere fur ever and ever dont like history. its booring! they shout. well, my daddy and mama and granny and grampapa always told us alot of history and my teachers too. then we walked to the libary and read and read so many books and then we checked the truth and fax.

why mrteacher, we didnt have everthing kids do now and so much food and so much video and tv and hollypood movies and such! then my daddy and my family and teachers told us many things to help us live in the world that is real! so some bad things but truth and some good things always the truth. and we learned so much! ya know from livin in the Real.

now what do you think will happen to the kids now when they cant learn ALL the stuff? and now the teachers say the kids dont believe the truth! well duh. ifn they always read conspiracees how can they learn who killed all those thousands of po Americans and those Heroes?! who would want to always tell the kids so many Lies? I know kids and kids can take it they can handle truth and alot of good and bad things cause they need to know. Liars are not helpin ther hurtin kids and us too!

now ya got me cryin mrTeacher my paper is all wet see. please get a better edjamucation mr. we will help you too!

September 10, 2011 at 6:38 p.m.
Legend said...

Oprahi show that folks now have many ancestors. missOprah sure did teach us alot that day. she had white lookin folks on one end and dark lookin folks on the other and what do you thunk?! the white lookin ones had dark ancestors and the dark ones had white folks way back ther!

And you, huckleberry, didn't know that until Oprah{i} pointed it out to you on her show? Ask any dark skinned person, I can assure you, they've always been aware of their white ancestry. It's always been we white folks who were in denial, but we knew too. We'd just rather be boiled in oil, as one white woman once admitted, than own up to the fact.

September 10, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.

thanky thanky mrlegond for being so smart and you tell me hehe!

but i sure saw that Opri show and hey! all those peoples she had standin on that big staje, well they didnt know! they was jus as boondoggle as we were and scrachin ther heads alot. and thats no lice mr legond!

all i mean is nobodi in America should hate whites folk or black folk or bruwn or green! but therr sure is alot of hate now and from everbodi so what did they ever lurn Mr legond what what?! i think some folks spredin hate on this page should get a whuppin from my daddy! real good hehe

September 10, 2011 at 11:43 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.