2. Look at the textbook pages from Germany, Russia, South Africa, the United States, Sweden and South Korea featured in the article. What do you notice about their depiction of Sept. 11? In what ways are they similar and different? Biz Herman, who has collected 850 textbooks from 90 countries, is quoted in the article:
“What are textbooks and what are they for?” Ms. Herman asks. “It would seem simple: that it’s for educating kids. But it’s actually for setting national agendas, for sharing a particular narrative. And sometimes it’s for educating kids.”
What does Ms. Herman mean by textbooks “setting national agendas”? Do you agree? In what ways have your own textbooks reflected a national agenda?
Sept. 11, 2021, 8:08 p.m. ET
3. Xolisa Nohenda, 17, a 12th grader in Johannesburg, said most of her peers believed that America “plays a big role in defending people.” Others interviewed by The Times had “a sense of deep skepticism” about American motives. What does Sept. 11 and its aftermath teach you about the United States?
4. The students from around the world told The Times that they wanted their teachers and schools to go deeper into 9/11. Many gave low grades, even F’s, to their education. Do these criticisms resonate with your own experiences learning about Sept. 11? How would you like to see this subject taught? What questions do you still have about the terrorist attacks and their aftermath?
5. What is your reaction to the article? What did you find most surprising, memorable or affecting? Does it change how you think about Sept. 11 and its impact on your generation, the United States and the world?
6. The article concludes with a discussion of the challenges and necessity of teaching about Sept. 11, beginning with a quote from Mujtaba Ali al-Saadi, an 18-year-old high school senior in Iraq:
Mr. al-Saadi, in Baghdad, said he could understand why so few teachers wanted to teach about 9/11. “When something hurts you, or crushes you from the inside, then of course you don’t talk about it,” he said.
And yet, he and many others argue, that trauma is exactly why the subject must be taught. To process the pain. To learn from the failures. To help the next generation do better than the last.
Do you agree that “trauma is exactly why the subject must be taught”? How important is it that we continue to teach about Sept. 11 to today’s students who didn’t directly experience the day? What lessons do you think students can gain?
Design a lesson to teach students about 9/11.
Imagine you are asked to teach a lesson about Sept. 11. What aspects of the day and its aftermath would you focus on? What would you hope students would gain from your lesson?