The 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 killed thousands of people when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and another into a field in Pennsylvania.
Every year, the tragic event is remembered around the country. Paly students may recall having annual class discussions about the attack during middle school, with teachers planning lectures and videos as the date came around.
Recently, however, it seems as we move farther away from the year 2001, teachers do not talk about the event anymore at Paly.
September 11 was more than just an attack on the country: it not only destroyed buildings but also forced families who lost their loved ones to confront an empty seat at the dinner table every day.
The terrorism and racial discrimination in this country today partially stems from this attack. Because of this, 9/11 should be a mandatory topic of conversation in classrooms on its anniversary each year. It should be talked about for at least half of the period, and could range from sharing personal stories and having group discussions, to educational films and movies about the attack.
However, it has been 18 years since 9/11, and on Paly’s campus, the anniversary this year seemed to go on like any other day.
There seemed to be a missing topic of discussion, a gaping hole in the conversation between teachers and students. It did not seem to be the teachers’ fault that there was no talk of 9/11, it just seemed to be the way that it was — or the way that it is becoming.
It is not this way everywhere across America. According to The Virginia School District, teachers in Virginia are required to talk about 9/11 in their classes. A teacher in one of Virginia’s school districts, for instance, takes about two days to fully show his students documentaries and stories from the attack. Something like this would show respect for the tragedy and those who lost their lives because of it.
Of course, having talks on 9/11 each year would cost a full day of curriculum. Teachers and administrators have to focus on keeping the right balance between instructional minutes and enrichment activities.
One possible approach would be to incorporate 9/11-related topics into curriculum on other days, not just on Sept. 11. Itcould be talked about in history or English classes as part of a specific course.
The tragedy could also be talked about in terms of sociology: researching the efforts to try to find survivors and their stories, or how the trauma affects their brains to this day.
Weaving this curriculum into regular instructional minutes is another way to remember what happened on that day.
It can be hard for everyone to talk about a tragedy. It serves as a reality check for many, that even one of the most powerful countries in the world takes hits as bad as the 9/11 disaster.
But 9/11 needs to be discussed every year, no matter how many times people have heard it.
The event and its significance, even today, is so great that it remains relevant. At the end of the day, the 9/11 talk is more than just a history discussion.
Teachers may have personal anecdotes to share in class about where they were on 9/11 and students may want to tell stories about where their parents were when it happened.
It should be a day of sharing stories about an event that affected every person in the U.S. in one way or another.