Lessons on 9/11 evolving

Published 1:48 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

With the anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, teachers have made an effort to take a class period or two to discuss what happened 10 years ago.

Ashley Langford, who has been the 11th grade American History teacher at Fort Dale Academy for 14 years, said she tries to spend at least one class period talking about what happened and how it impacted lives that day.

“I guess with WWI and WWII and Vietnam, I actually studied the wars and know more about the military than I do with this war,” Langford said. “I probably approach 9/11 from a more a humanistic approach or perspective.”

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Dow Gardner, an 11th grader at Fort Dale Academy, which would have made him a 1st grader at the time of the 9/11 attack, said it’s still shocking to learn about 9/11 even though it happened so long ago.

“I remember my parents talking about it, and we watched it on TV,” he said. “I didn’t understand as much as I do now.”

According to Langford, the further you get away from an event, the perspective starts to change.

“Every year there’s something new to add,” Langford said. “The Vietnam war is still recent to me, because that was all that was going on when I was a little girl. I try to bring that to them, because it was real for me and they weren’t born yet.”

Someone who was also in 1st grade, but went to visit the physical site in New York, is Colby Benson, an 11th grader at Fort Dale Academy.

“It makes me sad,” Benson said. “Some of the videos we watch make me want to cry. It’s very disturbing.”

For Langford, she still remembers every minute of that day.

“The children I’m teaching it to, they don’t recall it,” Langford said. “They remember a little bit about it, whereas five or six years ago, those students remember a whole lot more about it themselves.”

Because Fort Dale Academy is K-12, Langford said the school approached the situation differently with different grades 10 years ago.

“[The school] was trying to keep everything as business-as -usual as they could for the elementary children,” Langford said. “We had a couple of classrooms that had cable hookup, and we had most of the high school kids and teachers in a couple of classrooms just watching the stuff unfold on TV.”

As time moves forward, Langford said she finds herself having to change her teaching method as the faces in her classroom change.

“I’m still teaching it as a current event, but I’m starting now to look at it as history,” Langford said. “To me, it’s current, but to them, they were so young when it happened. Its not as much as part of their personal history as it is for me. In six years, I’ll have students that weren’t even born yet, and that changes the way you teach it.”