Teaching Students About 9/11

By Scott Sarvay
By Max Resnik

September 5, 2011 Updated Sep 6, 2011 at 2:24 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - The images of September 11, 2001 are iconic. Remembering that day, if you are old enough to remember, is easy. How though is a date that lives in infamy viewed if you are unable to remember it because you are too young or because you were not even born yet?

That is the case for today’s middle school students, many of whom will begin learning about September 11 this week.

Rod Richison, a social studies teacher at Crestview Middle School in Huntington, says teaching the events of 9/11 is like teaching the Revolutionary War.

“These kids were a year old when this happened so they have no recollection other than news clips that they’ve seen or what they’ve heard from teachers or their parents. So to them, this is all ancient history.”

Students in Richison’s classroom will have one day to learn about the events of 9/11. Richison’s curriculum includes a timeline of the day as well as some history of America’s overseas involvement in the years leading up to the attacks. They will also discuss the causes and effects of America’s post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the issues Richison will address is how to categorize the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11. He says it is important to recognize that terrorism is not based in Islam.

“I’m going to classify them as extremists because I don’t want them to think or believe that all Muslims have that same belief.”

Scott Snyder, a U.S. history teacher at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, agrees with Richison’s categorization of the terrorists. He says he will use the term Islamic Fundamentalist to describe the terrorists.

“The students need to understand that Islam is a peaceful religion, but if it’s skewed and turned in a way, it can become a very violent religion and people can use it that way. The way it’s taught and the way it’s practiced by 99 percent of the world is peaceful.”

Snyder’s curriculum will be taught in May. He says 9/11 must be viewed through a historical scope that includes almost a century’s worth of history.

“The U.S. has been involved in Middle Eastern politics for 50 or 60 years, I mean some dating back to WWI. They need to know the scope and history of that to get a full perspective of 9/11.”

Jim Lutz, Ph.D., Chair of the Political Science Department at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, teaches a course on terrorism. He says he will remind his students that 9/11 is not the world’s first example of terrorism.

“Terrorism has been around in the modern era for at least 100 years. It goes well back into the past. 9/11 has to be viewed in the context of terrorism from a global perspective, not just from a Middle Eastern perspective and not just from an Islamic perspective.”

He, like Richison and Snyder, says there is an undeniable importance in properly categorizing the terrorists.

“I think it is essential to classify them as radical and extremist who happen to be Muslim; whose religious patters are based in Islam as opposed to Christianity or Hinduism or any number of other religions which have spawned terrorist groups as well.”

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