On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, attackers associated with the terrorist organization al Qaeda hijacked four passenger airplanes. The terrorists flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvanian field after a group of passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers on board; the terrorists possibly were targetting the US Capitol or the White House with the fourth plane. The terror attacks on September 11, commonly known as 9/11, resulted in the deaths of nearly 3000 people, and life-altering injuries to more than double that.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks that claimed so many lives changed the trajectory of the United States forever. Now, 20 years later, Americans who watched the events of that day unfold still remember. But few students remember that day in our history; many are too young to have any memory of it, and some weren’t even born. Most of the knowledge today’s students have of those terrorist attacks on September 11th they have gained in their US History classes in school. But there are not many (if any) curricular options that deal with the events of that day. In most cases, the decision about how to address the events of 9/11 is left up to individual teachers.


It is a struggle for many teachers to teach about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2021. They aren’t always sure how to approach that moment in history in the classroom; it is a complex and sensitive topic to present to a generation of students who are so distant from that day, both in terms of the physical passage of time as well as the psychological perception of time.


The government in the US does not control or direct which curricular resources educators use to teach any academic subject, as curriculum choices are left to individual school districts. But there are many resources available to assist teachers in designing and implementing different lessons, including lessons about the events of 9/11 for their students. The resources available to educators exist to help students in America gain a deeper understanding of the events of 9/11 and their impact on our nation, as well as other countries and communities around the world.



The 9/11 Memorial & Museum https://www.911memorial.org/learn
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial https://pentagonmemorial.org/learn/education-materials

Smithsonian: National Museum of American History

Kenneth E. Behring Center

US Department of Education https://www.ed.gov/911anniversary
Center for Civic Education https://new.civiced.org/home


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Written by Erika Mehlhaff