"The first thing I did after September 11, was give them a short history lesson on modern Afghanistan- the Soviet occupation, the Taliban takeover, the drought, the women's issues- so that they would be more prepared to understand the discussions that we have to continue to have," said Vickie McElroy, a seventh-grade social-studies teacher in Roswell, Ga.
CHILDREN NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING
By K. Hite
Terrorism is a hard thing for people to understand, especially children. Teachers around the country are changing their curriculum to include lessons about the attacks. Vickie McElroy thought the best way was with a history lesson on the enemy.
Educators like Doris L. Sampognaro organized walk-a-thons and coin drives to encourage students to take an active role in their country's fight against terrorism. Students at Sampognaro's school raised $1,000 dollars for relief efforts.
Fifth graders, Amy Sheehy and Dani Owens wrote a song entitled "My Country." With the help of the choir at their Waco, Texas elementary school they put their song on a CD to raise money for the relief fund.
Teachers in New York City and Washington D.C. have had the hardest time helping children understand the tragedy. In D.C. three teachers and three students died onboard Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. Students in New York lost their mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles in the attacks. When something this tragic happens it is normal for children to wonder whether it could happen to them. Children need constant comfort and reassurances from the grownups in thier lives. Teachers encouraged students to find their own ways to mourn. Many wrote songs and poems about their loved one who died. Counselors, teachers and adminstrators at schools around the country took time each day to help their students heal.
At Phelps High School in Washington D.C. student are required to write term papers on the attacks. Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, VA regularly holds discussions about the progress of the war. These term papers and discussion are part of the school districts plan to become more proactive.
Patricia Anderson, a teacher at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts said she is using every chance she gets to help her students understand what is happening in our nation. She believes the war provides teachers of every subject the opportunity to deepen their students understanding of the world.
"This is an especially important time, because the matter of terrorism has so many tentacles and my students have so many questions," Anderson said. "I'm using the newspaper as a textbook to teach them about geography, medical science, international politics, constitutional rights and lots of other areas."