Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 as a PBL theme

I just posted on TeachPaperless about why I will not be teaching 9/11 tomorrow. That does not mean that students will not learn about it eventually. It might take us all year in Global Studies to get the background to truly begin to understand it.

As I will have the same students next year for American History I am thinking that 9/11and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would make a great PBL theme for the whole year. It could be connected to almost everything in our history.

  • The terrorist acts on civilians could be compared to other attacks on civilians such as the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Wounded Knee Massacre or the My Lai Massacre.
By Rolling Thunder at de.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

  • The propaganda of WMD to justify a preemptive strike against Iraq could be compared to other propaganda in history. The use of patriotism for war to distract people from domestic and economic problems is another theme in US history.

  • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be compared with the many other conflicts in our history. The parallels with Vietnam are numerous. 

  • The history of Afghanistan can only be understood in the context of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. 

  • Our setting up governments in Iraq and Afghanistan could be compared to puppet governments in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America under the guise of "keeping out the Reds" while we protected our rights to pilfer countries of their natural resources.

  • The torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib could lead to a discussion on civil rights and who has rights under our Constitution. Not to mention the high percentage of minorities who serve in our armed forces and fight the politicians' wars. 

  • The question of the motives of the terrorists leads to complicated discussions of imperialism, puppet dictators paid for oil, and centuries of hate between Jews, Muslims, and Christians dating back to the Crusades.
What would you add to this list?


  1. I would add something about how do you figure out what's true? That was my blog post today.

    I believe the historical writing that makes sense to me. I may not question everything I should. If I read historical sources together with people I could respectfully disagree with, I'd learn more.

  2. This comment is a combination of thoughts after reading the teachpaperless post and this one...

    I also did not teach it...I was going to, and then threw out my plans. I found the same thing you kid has a clue about it, they know Osama, they can maybe picture the burning building. I knew I couldn't give answers to questions they did not have...
    What I decided to do though was just show what it was like with no "political" commentary. Just a very simple here is what happened, here is what it looked and felt like. I kind of placed the day in a mindset as day 1 of a PBL unit that they will finish on there own. They walked out with questions...very few if any answered. They know have images in their head, not the stereotypical news footage, but the "common man" sorta images.

    I did feel icky about being "forced" to teach it on you say in this post, it might have made so much more sense placing it within the context of the class instead of a hit-and-run lesson...

    Kind of like Constitution Day next Friday...

    Enjoyed both posts...

    To this one would add the use of patriotism by a class of "colonists" to further their agenda and break free from England. Patriotism can cause blindness.

  3. Thanks Sue and Paul,

    Love the last line
    "Patriotism can cause blindness."

  4. Hi Mr. Micheal,
    my name is Hillary Parmer and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I must say I really enjoyed reading this post, and also your post on Teach Paperless. Obviously, I'm not quite a teacher yet, but reading this post and the responses to it have really made me think. You are right, if students do not have a total understanding of what went on between all of the countries before 9-11, they will not really understand it. Honestly, I'm not sure that I even know the history! You have inspired me to research it.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Hillary. You are in a great class. enjoy!