Educators Learn 9/11 Teaching Strategies at Gilder Lehrman Institute Seminar

Professor James Young speaks about Holocaust memorials in Germany as students watch on.
Professor James Young speaks about Holocaust memorials in Germany. Photo: Jenny Pachucki

Teachers are often challenged by how to approach educating students about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Last week, in an attempt to find answers to that challenge, a group of American History teachers from across the country gathered in the Education Center of the 9/11 Memorial Museum for a joint seminar with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The GIlder Lehrman Institute selected the 25 participating educators from a large pool of applicants. They investigated the historical causes, the immediate impact and the legacies of the 9/11 attacks, examining how societies have coped with episodes of great violence such as the American Civil War, the Great War in Europe, the Holocaust, and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Distinguished historian Edward Linenthal, who led the seminar, said “understanding the impact of violence and its ripple effects will help us understand people who are impacted by terrorism around the world.”

Using the museum’s collections, the historic site, and the memorial plaza, teachers studied the nature of commemoration. Additionally, they heard lectures from historians David Blight, James Young, photographer Tom Franklin, and Donna Glessner and Jeff Reinbold from the National Flight 93 Memorial.

Toby Smith, the Master Teacher and program coordinator for the Gilder Lehrman Society, remarked, “Being in this space provides a more meaningful and emotional experience. Everyone is thinking, ‘We’re here. Under where the South Tower once stood.’”

At the seminar’s conclusion, teachers had developed lesson plans centered on the themes addressed over the week. Linenthal hopes the time spent at the seminar will help teachers cultivate a sense of “meaningful empathy” in their students.

 By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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