Lessons From September 11th

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It’s noon at Toby Johnson Middle School…and while his students are on their lunch break, teacher Tom Funk is in his classroom previewing a Power Point slide show he’s assembled of the 9/11 Terror Attacks.  

"I start the timer and somehow I just happened on this sequence from Vivaldi and we show images of what happened on that day. There’s some narrative on the screen so the students get a narration. No one’s speaking. The images are pretty vivid." 

…including photographs of the two airliners crashing into the Twin Towers. Funk will be showing these images to 12 and 13 year olds….kids that were in 1st and 2nd grades when the attacks happened. 

"Every year we have a discussion – is it still appropriate to show this? And we’ve always felt it’s still appropriate." 

Funk’s history lesson covers what happened on September 11th and the search for those who were responsible. But it does not include the war in Iraq. 

"That particular invasion has so many other political aspects to it that we’ve decided that we’re going to keep this as a report on what happened on 9/11 and the immediate response to it and then what we do is we bring the students back to America and we show them the people in America who made sacrifices on that day to help save others." 

Funk points out, it’s pretty natural for 7th and 8th graders to think of themselves as the center of the universe. But learning about 9/11 helps them see the big picture of what it is to live in America… 

"…because now they’re seeing what’s happened to their country and how somehow it involves them. The challenge is to help them open their eyes to what’s going on around them."

Funk says if his students come away with anything from the lesson he hopes they realize how September 11th brought the country together….and that the heroes were everyday people who put their own lives at risk to help their fellow citizens.