An Inclusive Litany

9/25/01

Following the September 11 attacks, the New York City Board of Education recommended various web sites for teachers to use in their curriculum, none of which provided any information on Islamic extremism or Osama bin Laden, and most of which were geared towards promoting tolerance and mental health. The only four sites listed under "Social Studies" and "Government" were on the order of ePALS, which provides "e-mail exchange opportunities to promote understanding."

The National Association of School Psychologists, for its part, recommended on its website that teachers "discuss historical instances of American intolerance" and "Identify 'heroes' of varying backgrounds involved in response to the attacks." When dealing with indignant students who voice a desire for military reprisals, teachers should keep in mind the following: "A natural reaction to horrific acts of violence like the recent terrorist attacks on the United States is the desire to lash out and punish the perpetrators.... People who are angry or frightened often feel that the ability to fight back puts them more in control or will alleviate their sense of pain."

A Rhode Island high schooler told the New York Times how the events of September 11 had been addressed in his classes: "In class they keep on saying that the bigger person is the one who walks away from the fight, the one who wants peace. How many people do we have to kill to make Americans feel better? Some of these politicians who want war are acting younger than we are."

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