Ideas for the
Especially on the anniversary of
the terrorist attacks of September 11,
2002, but also throughout the school year,
school principals and staff need to consider
how they will help their students come
to understand these events and their aftermath
in private lives and government policies.
Suggestions for Marking the 9/11/02
- Choose an activity that includes individual
as well as group reflection. This might
include a writing assignment in social
studies or English classes following
an all-school assembly. (See the activities
Identity and Society and
Human Rights through the Art of
- Emphasize the wider local community.
Include adult members of the community,
such as parents and public servants
(e.g., elected officials, firefighters,
police, etc.) in memorial activities.
- Encourage an awareness of the
global interconnectedness of events.
- Ask all members of the community
to consider what they have learned as
a result of events of 9/11. Especially
ask what people feel they need to learn
- Create a climate and forum for
sharing a wide spectrum of ideas and
- Avoid creating polarizing generalizations.
For example, make a clear distinction
between Islam and Islamic militants,
Arabs and Muslims.
- Consider an all-school learning
day on Islam, Afghanistan, or the nature
of terrorism, emphasizing the fact that
terrorism is not exclusive to any group.
- Emphasize the importance of
individual responsibility and participation
in the community.
- See Facing
History and Ourselves web site for
additional memorial ideas.
Suggestions for On-Going Community
- Establish a world events club
that would read and discuss current
- Offer an elective course or
encourage the addition of units on world
religions, Islam, the Arab World, the
global economy, development, geography
or other topics relevant to 9/11 events.
- Invite assembly or classroom
speakers on relevant topics (e.g., human
rights, global economy, Islam, religious
- Encourage an evaluation of the
climate of the school: how well does
our school community reflect the values
of diversity and democracy? (See the
activity Taking the Human Rights
Temperature of Your School)
- Support school organizations
that offer exposure to a global perspective
like Model UN, Amnesty international,
- Remember that faculty may also
lack a background in global affairs
and diversity. Arrange speakers and
workshops on faculty enrichment days
that will deepen staff appreciation
of the complexity of issues.
- Create library displays and
reading lists of periodicals and books
on related topics.
- Avoid eliciting automatic responses,
especially in unthinking gestures and
statements. Instead encourage personal
- Never assume that the community
shares the same views and feelings.
Allow for diversity of opinion in any
- Be sensitive to polarizing us:them
terminology by both staff and students.
Instead show that innocent people are
hurt in warfare of all kinds, including
both terrorism and a war against terrorism.
- Avoid over-simplifying issues,
even for younger students. Instead,
emphasize that these topics are complex
and require serious thought and thorough
Copyright: University of Minnesota
Human Rights Center