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ERIC Number: ED498802
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Sep
Pages: 68
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
September 11: What Our Children Need to Know
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
The attacks on New York City and Washington on September 11, 2001, as well as the aborted attack that led to the Pennsylvania crash of United Airlines flight 93 comprised an event too traumatic to quickly set aside. All the things that a nation and its people do to digest, understand and in some sense recover from a cataclysm have been and are being done. A cycle of action and reflection will continue for some time, as events continue to unfold and the war on terrorism continues. At the same time, there are children to raise and to teach and it is necessary and right that they be taught about September 11th. It is necessary because it is on their minds, they are curious about it, many are upset, some were directly and painfully affected. It is also right to teach about September 11th because it was one of the defining events of the age, of the nation's history and of these children's lives. Educators have an obligation to provide the information, the analysis, the conclusions and the lessons that they believe their pupils need. What happened? Why did it happen? How should we think about it? What are we doing about it? What should we do about it? How can we keep it from happening again? But what exactly to teach: what are the major lessons of September 11th that teachers should introduce to their young charges? This report is compiled in response to those questions and to suggest what U.S. schools and educators should teach their students so that they will better understand the event, its precursors and its aftermath and so that they will be better able to function as young citizens of a nation that has endured an attack and is resultantly engaged in a serious and protracted war. The report seeks to buttress the civic values and enlarge the knowledge base of teachers and other educators, and to redress what the introduction describes as "the balance between those who would have the schools forge citizens and those who would have them focus on students' own feelings and on doubts about America." As the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks approached, twenty-three contributions were compiled to form the report in response to the question: "What civic lessons are the most imperative for U.S. K-12 teachers to teach their pupils about the United States and what it means to be an American?" Following an introduction by Chester E. Finn, Jr., the essays include: (1) Lessons of the Preamble (John Agresto); (2) Seizing This Teachable Moment (William J. Bennett); (3) Protecting Our Precious Liberty (Lynne Cheney); (4) Teaching Students to Count Their Blessings (William Damon); (5) The Civics Lessons of September 11 (Lucien Ellington); (6) Hard Lessons (William Galston); (7) Preserving America, Man's Greatest Hope (Victor Davis Hanson); (8) Celebrating American Freedom (Kay Hymowitz); (9) American Tolerance (Craig Kennedy); (10) Teaching Young People to Be Patriots (Katherine Kersten); (11) Civics, Schools and September 11 (Mary Beth Klee); (12) An Attack upon the World (Erich Martel); (13) Forging Heroes (Walter Russell Mead); (14) Defending Democracy (Jeffrey Mirel); (15) Terrorism: The "Ism" du Jour (Mitchell Pearlstein); (16) Seeing the Patterns (Theodore Rabb); (17) America: Always Vulnerable, Never Inevitable (Richard Rodriguez); (18) An Attack on Who We Are (Andrew J. Rotherham); (19) Defining the American Identity (Gloria Sesso and John Pyne); (20) Alleviating Our Historical Ignorance (Sheldon M. Stern); (21) Heroes and Victims (Sandra Stotsky); (22) Fighting Complacency (Kenneth R. Weinstein); and (23) What Students Should Know about War (James Q. Wilson). A list of recommended resources for teachers is also included.
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation & Institute. 1701 K Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-223-5452; Fax: 202-223-9226; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - General; Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: United States