A Tufts University study finds that while the District and 20 states do discuss the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in their high school social studies curricula, they don’t have much context or detail. Fourteen states don’t mention the attacks at all in texts that have been updated since 2001.
While the researchers don’t want states that exclude 9/11 from their texts to be considered “negligent,” they praise the states that include the attacks, writing:
We do, however, recognize the power of these standards in guiding what is taught in high school social studies classrooms and as a form of “official knowledge” that becomes part of the historical narrative.
District of Columbia Public Schools’ high schoolers study 9/11 in the 11th grade, and are asked to “describe America’s response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, including the intervention in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq.”
The DCPS choice of curriculum makes sense. Take the wide variety of opinion pieces posted in local and national media over the weekend. Unlike Pearl Harbor, to which the researchers compared 9/11, the lessons of the day are anything but settled. America is still examining and re-examining its feelings about the attacks and their aftermath. For the time being, standardizing those feelings into “official knowledge” seems like something that should be held off.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery