OAKWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – The 9/11 anniversary is being recognized in classrooms throughout the country Wednesday. But it’s a challenge for some teachers to reach students who weren’t alive when it happened.
Teens at Oakwood High School are learning about 9/11 the same way many people did at the time: by watching the news coverage.
History teacher Mitch Miller says it can be shocking, but effective. “They don’t know what it was like beforehand.”
The day so many Americans will never forget is one most teens today never remember. Miller asked his class, “Do I have any 18-year-olds? Anybody 18? I didn’t think so. So, nobody was around, none of you were here on 9/11.”
For several years Miller tried to find the best way to introduce his students to such a weighty and nuanced issue. Eventually he settled on the news. Miller says, “That’s how I watched it with a remote, bouncing from channel to channel to channel. Without giving them much background, they watch it unfold.”
The local and national news clips are in chronological order, allowing the students to learn what happened as it happened, including the uncertainty, speculation, and fear. Miller says, “You get a sense of how the news is reported and created while it was happening at the time. And I think there was a lot of shock.”
The images and sound can be just as unsettling now as they were 18 years ago, but Miller doesn’t sanitize what happened. “It could be very disturbing. Watching people jumping from the towers is disturbing. But it happened. Those are things I think are important for the students to remember and carry with them.”
Mr. Miller asked all his classes how many people were alive on 9/11, just one student raised their hand all day. Next year that number could be zero.