Covering the events of Sept. 11, 2001 has a different effect on U.S. History students than discussing the Civil War or Pearl Harbor.
â€œThe kids have lived this,â€ said Mike Bowen, an Advanced Placement U.S. History and AP Government teacher at Lincolnton High School. â€œThree years ago these young men and women watched it happen before them.â€
Now, the same students who saw the twin towers fall on live television are studying the event in their history class.
Included in the modern curriculum are subjects such as the Patriot Act, Al-Quaeda, the Taliban Regime and even airport security.
High school students also learn both the terrorist acts leading up to Sept. 11, as well as the effects the national tragedy had on world events.
â€œItâ€™s so tough to teach,â€ said Don Mowry, a U.S. History teacher at West Lincoln High School. â€œThey just donâ€™t understand the culture. Itâ€™s just too easy to stereotype Muslims as terrorists.â€
Discussing terrorism, the war in Iraq and the president of the United States can all be hot button issues for students, but teachers are required to spend time on all the subjects.
â€œThe biggest point to teach in this is everyone has to listen to what the other person said, and you cannot personalize attacks,â€ said Bowen.
Supervising a debate on such issues often puts the teacher in the position of being referee. Bowen makes sure never to promote a specific side himself.
â€œIâ€™m not looking for 31 parrots,â€ said Bowen. â€œYouâ€™re really looking for what they see, what they feel.â€
Today Bowen plans to take class time to discuss the implications of Sept. 11 and ask students to try to find solutions.
â€œKids are pretty smart. They realize that you canâ€™t make the perfect mousetrap. So, how are we going to stop it?â€ said Bowen. â€œHow do you stop an individual that has enough hatred they would give their own life for their cause?â€
The answer to the question is obviously not easy to come by, but by the end of the class Bowen expects a board full of ideas.
â€œItâ€™s a big response when you open up a can of worms like this,â€ said Bowen. â€œThe kids do a good job with it.â€
Bowen will revisit the events of Sept. 11 near the end of the school year, which is where it falls on the curriculum.
Classes will be spent discussing restrictions on civil liberties, the governmentâ€™s policy towards terrorism and the impact of terrorist threat on the United States foreign policy.
When Mowry covers the subject in his classes, he occasionally comes across a student who simply wants to bomb an entire country to oblivion.
When that happens, he shows them pictures of the actual results of nuclear bombs.
â€œIt lets them see the other side of the coin,â€ said Mowry.
Mowry is not the only teacher to use images from the past to teach lessons about the present.
Teachers across the county remind their students that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
â€œThatâ€™s the reason why we study history,â€ said Bowen. â€œKids always have to know why.â€by Sarah Grano