Saturday, November 09, 2013

The Surprising Thing I Learned About My Students' Image of 9/11

I am teaching a short course on 9/11. 

I wanted to teach this course when I realized that next year's first-year students were in kindergarten in 2001.  Soon the Centre student body will have no memory of the 9/11 attack, while the grownups around them will continue to refer to the events as if they happened yesterday.

The juniors and seniors I am teaching this term were in third or fourth grade at the time. They do remember, though mostly they remember the commotion among the adults and in their school.  But they all saw the pictures of the burning towers of the World Trade Center that day.

The surprising thing I learned from teaching them is that they did not know that the twin towers were a famous landmark before 9/11.  They asked me if, when we heard that the World Trade Center had been hit by airplanes, could most people picture what those buildings looked like?

For young adults today - and likely the whole next generation - their main image of the World Trade Center is of the twin towers on fire, and then collapsing into rubble.


ceemac said...

I was 5 when JFK was shot. I was home sick from kindergarten so I saw all the coverage. So pretty vivid memories of that time.

Do you think your Freshmen have similar memories of 9/11?

Gruntled said...

They tend to remember that the adults were very upset about something. They sometimes remember the television images of the twin towers on fire, but they have seen those images so often thereafter that it is hard to tell what they remember from the moment and what has been added later.