Educators Tackle the Challenges of Teaching 9/11 to a New Generation

An educator looks towards the stage in the Museum auditorium. He is holding a 9/11 Memorial & Museum folder and  wearing a tie and dress shirt.
Photo by Jin S. Lee, 9/11 Memorial

During this year’s New York City Department of Education Chancellor’s Day, the 9/11 Memorial Museum offered educators a full-day professional development conference to help teach 9/11 to students.

As we all know, teaching 9/11 presents many challenges for educators. The attacks had a national and global impact, but this event obviously also holds special meaning to New Yorkers, and memories of this traumatic experience still echo.

It is difficult to teach a subject that you or your students may have a strong emotional connection to. Both students and teachers may have lost loved ones or have been emotionally affected. The collateral political and societal effects of extremism have forced us as a nation to have complex conversations about fear, security concerns and civil liberties. And nowadays, teachers face the challenge of introducing 9/11 to a generation of students with no living memory or prior knowledge of the attacks.

Regardless of the difficulties, I feel that 9/11 is a subject that should not be ignored in schools. Teachers should be given the best resources to teach a topic that has so much emotional, political and even religious resonance for students and teachers.

Thanks to the Chancellor’s Day conference and the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s professional development programs, I’m more prepared to teach about 9/11 and the motivation behind the attacks to a new generation. I believe I can provide my students with a better understanding of how to intelligently discuss this issue for many years to come.

By Osia Coger, Teacher at Tenzer Learning Center at Pathways to Graduation in Manhattan

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