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Helping students understand not just what happened on 9/11, but why

Black silhouette is watching on buildings.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
A Student watches a detailed account of the September 11th attacks. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Students today were just kids or hadn’t even been born yet when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania a decade ago, killing nearly 3,000 people.

So when teachers talk about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, they’re discussing something most of their students barely remember. Yet like everyone else, those students have felt the impacts every time they’ve gone to the airport or seen someone they know go off to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“They know about it and what happened, but they don’t know exactly why it happened,” said Todd Creason, who teaches history at Oak Park High School. “It’s important because it’s shaped this decade. It’s changed our people. It shows our character, who we are.”

How teachers are approaching the 10-year anniversary will depend on what grade they teach. Elementary teachers will make sure their students feel safe Monday, knowing they might have seen upsetting images on television the day before or heard people talking about airplanes going into buildings. …

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