Many of my students were not even born or they may have been 8 hours old when the planes crashed into the towers.
But they still know about it. Some were profoundly affected by it. They are growing up in a world very different than the one I grew up in. What they know about the world is very different than what I knew at their age.
We talked it about it today, before I showed them a rap video about common and proper nouns.
I almost didn’t expect them to bring it up, I knew that I couldn’t do it justice, so I wasn’t going to have some activity to go along with it. The pressing needs of grammar and novels distracts me sometimes from these great teachable moments.
However, I can’t sometimes breeze past the comments and the questions. Just like my teachers in high school didn’t breeze past the comments and questions. They faced it head on and used it to teach us. To expand our world a bit.
I think about it sometimes, the fact that I can remember exactly where I was, what I was wearing, the fact that it was picture day and I was wearing my favorite jean skirt. We watched news coverage on a small TV in one of the teacher’s closets. We didn’t do much work, but we certainly learned a lot.
I think about the fact that I had no idea what the World Trade Centers were. I had no understanding about the conflict in the Middle East. I think about Mr. Bauer, a great world history teacher, who used that moment, in the midst of us learning about Napoleon Bonapart and war, to teach us about a different war.
Like many other tragedies that I have addressed with my students in the last year, Newtown and Boston, these incredibly heart breaking and weighty moments are important for our students. The world we set them loose in will be very different than the one today. How we respond to these events will impact how they respond.
I certainly will always remember how my teachers acted and responded to local and world tragedies and I am forever changed by them.