The National September 11 Memorial Museum has helped organize the “September 11: Teaching Contemporary” online conference, providing educators nationwide tools to teach 9/11 in their classrooms.
The two-day webinar on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 was jointly organized by the museum, the Smithsonian and the Flight 93 and Pentagon memorials. It included eight sessions that touched on numerous themes, including using literature as entry points for younger children and employing oral histories as teaching tools.
The museum’s director of education, Cliff Chanin, answered questions and provided insight into the design and development of the museum, which opens in 2012 at the World Trade Center site.
I focused my session on framing memorials as storytellers, as tangible manifestations of ideas held by the memorial designers and the larger public. I thought it would be interesting to treat memorials as objects, like you would a painting in an art museum. That is, what can we learn just by looking at a memorial’s design? Because 9/11 is often so difficult to discuss, memorials can offer an age-appropriate entry point for educators to discuss the attacks, while also tying them to other memorialized events in history.
By Noah Rauch, Manager of School and Family Programs for 9/11 Memorial Museum