Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Using 9-11 to teach victimology 

Over on FrontPage, Jacob Laksin tells the story of the 9-11 teaching contest operated by Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It sounds like a good idea, to have a contest to build lesson plans to discuss the events of that day,
But if the contest�s eventual winners are any indication, there was yet another, unspoken criterion: the lesson plans had to encourage students in the notion that the terrorist attacks, however horrific, were the direct consequence of an abominably misguided U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East.

Call it Blame America 101. Outspoken leftist activist and fifth grade teacher Bob Peterson, whose plan to teach 9-11 at elementary schools was selected as one of the four winning entries, urges students to consider the attacks �in the broader context of global injustice.� To wrap their young minds around terrorism, Peterson contends, they must first untangle the �tough questions,� such as, �Why do they hate us?� Another winner, Iowa middle school teacher Tracy Paxton, recommends a vocabulary lesson. Among the words she believes shed light on the nature of terrorism are, �Al Qaeda,� �Saddam Hussein,� �stereotype,� �Taliban,� and, ominously, �Right wing.�
Some of the lesson plans can be found here. The high school lesson plan offered has these objectives:


  • Students will learn and understand the principals [sic] of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
  • Students will be able to explain and define the positions they have taken on the use of authority during wartime.
  • Students will be able understand civil liberties and equity and the issues of national security.
At least the college course refers to the terrorists as people who "lash out", though again with some idea that they were provoked by U.S. policy. But the high school lesson uses 9/11 as a means to some other end rather than as an end in itself.