Instead of focusing on emotion reactions to the Sept. 11 attacks, Bay Area teachers try to use the anniversary to teach critical thinking and historical perspective, says this San Francisco Chronicle story. Judge for yourself whether they’re teaching critical or politically correct thinking.
“To what extent are the events of 9/11 being used as a platform for the upcoming presidential election? To what extent should they be?”
Those are questions that teachers at San Francisco’s Leadership High School came up with a few weeks ago as they thought ahead to the infamous anniversary. The questions are listed under the heading “Practicing Critical Thinking,” and on Monday afternoon, the entire school will spend an hour considering those and similar questions.
. . . Amy Punkar, chairwoman of the social studies department at Jefferson High in Daly City, plans to pose two questions to her advanced-placement U.S. history class:
“What has changed globally since 9/11?” and “What are some of the political consequences within the United States since then?” (Punkar’s hint to students reading this — think civil rights.)
. . . One of the more striking examples took place in Room 201 on Thursday afternoon at Washington High School in San Francisco, where teacher Martin Wolf deftly transformed a discussion of plot, setting and character in “The Lion King” into a focus on plot, setting and character on the world stage.
“In Iraq, we also have a setting,” Wolf told the 10th-graders in his ethnic literature class, pointing out that the conflict, complications and climax of fiction are no less present in Baghdad and Washington.
“Yesterday, George Bush said that the 1,000 soldiers who have died in Iraq died fighting terrorism,” Wolf said. “I wonder — did they? Does George Bush believe this? Let’s go back . . . ”
He then recounted the events since Sept. 11 using slides filled with facts, photos and the vocabulary words “mujahedeen,” “theocracy” and “secular.”
. . . Later, Gwendolyn Samson, 15, said she found the lesson valuable because she hadn’t known that Iraq was not responsible for Sept. 11.
Students like Gwendolyn were his “target audience,” Wolf said — the reason the lesson was important.
“We need to be an informed citizenry,” Wolf said. “I’m planting the seeds.”
An informed citizenry that uses a 10th grade literature class to discuss a Disney children’s movie? Don’t they read any literature?
BTW, the first teacher quoted is my daughter’s former civics teacher and Mock Trial coach, Suzan Stewart, though her first name is misspelled in the story. Go, Paly Mock Trial!