20 Years Later: Teaching a new generation about 9/11
NEW CARLISE, Ind. --- Generation Z is too young to remember the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. For them, it's history. It's something many of them learn about for the first time in school.
After the twin towers came crashing down on 9/11, it changed how we travel and America became laser-focused on the war on terror.
These are the things New Prairie history teacher Mark Schellinger teaches his students about.
”It’s been 20 years now coming up on Saturday and none of our students were alive at the time. So they really have, other than what they’ve heard from other people, they don’t have that first-hand account of it,” Schellinger said.
“When I first started teaching, teaching high school, it was like 2006, 2007. They lived it, they remembered it and they could and they had their own first-hand account of it. And now, you know they don’t.”
Students know 9/11 was serious, but they don’t have anything tangible to tie it to. Most of them have no personal connections to it.
Even if students have no memory of 9/11, their lives were still largely affected by it.
“We look at the big picture, where have we gone as a country since then, what impact did it have and that was easier talking about it 15 years ago,” Schellinger said. “The students could see the impact first hand whereas now, they don’t realize it because all they know, all they have known is post 9/11.”
Robby Smith, a student at New Prairie High School, describes how Schellinger’s lesson about the September 11th terror attacks is different from his other classes.
“I feel like it was very somber. Usually, in class, people will talk or joke around but, in that class, in that atmosphere, it’s kind of more respectful and people are actually thinking about what happened,” Smith said.
“Tiffany: Do you find that students view 9/11 as some kind of long-gone history?”
"Mark: I do. Like I said, without living through it, it’s another part of history. I think with it being more recent, at least it’s been in the 2000s so they can relate to that. Whereas in history class we usually talk about the 1800s, 1900s, it seems like ancient history to them. Whereas this does seem a little bit more relevant to them.”
It’s a tough day to remember in US history, but an important moment for students to reflect on what’s changed in our country and to never forget.
“Tiffany: Do you struggle conveying the magnitude of what happened to our country to students?”
“Mark: Yeah I think that’s a big thing, when you didn’t live through it, it’s sometimes hard to understand that part of it. The big picture changes. I try to get the message across that this changed everyone’s life. Not just the people in New York, not just the people in Washington, everybody throughout the country and really everybody throughout the world was impacted by this one day. And 20 years later we still see the impacts of those events.”