Friday, September 11, 2009

Being 10 on 9/11

I grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey.  On frequent drives to my Aunt's house along the elevated Turnpike extension, we could see lower Manhattan.  When the second of the Twin Towers was finished being built, I was 10 years old.  Eight years ago this morning that was the flash back I had--being a boy watching in amazement and wonder as the biggest erector set in the world was being built.  Later that morning, I watched in amazement and horror as they came down.

What have we learned since that day and what, if anything, are we teaching our children about that event?  A few curricula for schools are available.  "Teaching 9/11" by the September 11th Education Program and The Families of September 11 curriculum both look like thoughtful and informative programs that cover issues from the way 9/11/01 changed our everyday lives to the importance of global awareness.  Both appear sensitive to the families that were directly affected.

More broadly, when I consider that day through the lens of my work as an educator, it occurs to me that the oldest students I interact with (high school students like the ones I watched the president's speech with the other day) were the same age when the towers came down as I was when they went up.  Although I did not go on to build skyscrapers, I have little doubt that seeing that gradual feat of human engineering at that impressionable age affected my aspirations in some way.  What couldn't be done?  The human capacity for construction seemed limitless.  I wonder if those who were ten on that morning eight years ago were "impressed" with something similar about the human capacity for destruction.  How do we unlearn that?  Should we unlearn that?

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