The Brave New World of Today’s K-12 Student

september_11th_tribute_in_light_from_bayonne_new_jerseyBy Nick McDaniels

This year, as we mark the 15th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, it is apparent to me that today’s K-12 students have grown up in a post-9/11 world. Even the 18 to 20-year-olds have very few memories before that day, which, for me and many others, changed the way we operate in America.

You see, in today’s student’s world, profiling of arab-appearing people in the airport is the norm. Government tapping of phone calls and emails is the norm. So too are the seemingly unrelated experiences with high stakes testing of No Child Left Behind and later iterations.

Such a perspective that today’s students hold is worrisome for teachers my age and older. You see, my historical perspective is shaped by the way the world seemed before 9/11 and the way the world seemed after.

I cannot relate this dichotomy in a meaningful way to students without it seeming like “up hill both ways” nostalgia, which it surely isn’t. The world really changed in 2001 at an acute moment in time. This was not a slow, gradual, cultural shift.  The world was one way on September 10th, 2001, and then quite another by September 12.

I’m not sure what our duties are to our students regarding the world before and after, but it is an observation worth noting when it comes to helping students understand the world around them.

 

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