We Are Living History: Reflections of a New York City Social Studies Teacher. (Teaching about Tragedy)(Cover Story)

By Schur, Joan Brodsky | Social Education, October 2001 | Go to article overview

We Are Living History: Reflections of a New York City Social Studies Teacher. (Teaching about Tragedy)(Cover Story)


Schur, Joan Brodsky, Social Education


Prelude

Fall is the most beautiful season of fill in New York City. Spring gives merely a fleeting taste of mild weather before the city bakes in too much heat; rare is the New Yorker who endures the long winter without complaint. Having lived in New York City all my life, first as a student and then as a teacher, the fall had always meant "back to school." Only on a sabbatical year off did I finally learn to appreciate the joys of autumn when New York City is in all its glory--day after day you can move from inside to outside in whatever you are wearing while savoring the deep blue skies against which the New York City skyline is so stunning. But this fall, our Indian summer feels utterly cruel; so much tragedy while the weather beckons us to enjoy life.

I live in Greenwich Village and walk to work by heading west. The Village Community School, an independent K-8 school, is on 10th Street just a few blocks from the Hudson River. For twenty years, on my fifteen-minute walk to work the Empire State Building has appeared on my right, the World Trade Center (visible anywhere in low-lying Greenwich Village) on my left. These buildings marked the boundary of my world and seemed as fixed and steadfast as the axis of a compass.

This fall, I was especially excited to return to school. Last year, I had developed a full year's course for seventh graders entitled The Islamic World. This year, I was eager to repeat and develop it further. Just mention "Islam" or "Muslims" and many well-educated adults will ask, "Why teach about Islam? Their values are so different from ours. What about their treatment of women? Of terrorism?" I grew up during the Cold War and one thing I know from the experience is that a wall of silence enveloped our schools in the 1950s and 1960s. We were to learn nothing about Russia or its people, as if by design. It is an easy--and effective--way to dehumanize "the other."

Aware of my own ignorance about the world's second largest religion, and about the centuries during which the Islamic world far surpassed the West in both material and intellectual accomplishments, I was determined to fill in the gaps of my own education. My school, deeply committed to diversity, supported my efforts. The summer of 1998, I studied at the Dar al Islam Teachers' Institute; last summer, I received a Fulbright grant to study in Turkey with fourteen other educators from around the United States (under the auspices of Dr. Manoucher Khosrowshahi of Tyler Jr. College in Texas). Before school opened, I posted on a bulletin board the fascinating photographs I had taken along the borders that Turkey shares with Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I had been so afraid to go to this part of the world; I had returned with so much to share.

Tuesday, September 11: Ground Zero

Today, during my first free period, I sit comparing notes with our other seventh grade homeroom teacher, Andy Robinson. We review the events of yesterday, our first day of school. My new seventh graders had returned fresh from summer and eager to learn; my eighth grade classes include many children who studied about the Islamic world with me last year. Around 9:15 a.m., someone pops into the teachers' room to tell us that our opening-of-school assembly has been called off. A small plane has accidentally crashed into the World Trade Center. To get to the assembly, our students would need to walk around the block in clear view of the accident. To protect our students from the upsetting sight, we will keep them inside.

Curious, Andy and I leave the teachers' room and head outside to the corner. A small group of adults is standing in the sun facing south. We look up. It takes a while for what we see to sink in. Not one, but two of the towers are ablaze. Black craters pockmark their upper stories. We are silent; we are helpless. Someone tells us that she saw a big American Airlines jet ram into one of the buildings. She avows that it was close enough to read the letters, even though we are located several miles north of the towers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

We Are Living History: Reflections of a New York City Social Studies Teacher. (Teaching about Tragedy)(Cover Story)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.