On September 10 a Virginia school used the video linked immediately below during the morning announcement time. The school serves students from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Please click on this link: Video shown to elementary school students on September 10
It is not clear what, if any, classroom discussion preceded the video or followed the video. It is very clear, however, that some parents complained and the school back-pedaled as fast as possible.
I am purposefully not identifying the school. I don’t want to further complicate the life of administrators, faculty, or others.
In my judgment the video is about as benign — even banal — a treatment of the tragedy as possible. I hope the media piece was not the only message. Nonetheless, in combination with age-appropriate discussion the use of such media on the school day closest to 9/11 strikes me as useful, even important.
Next year will be the tenth anniversary of a day that transformed our nation and well-beyond. It would be irresponsible for schools to not give attention to the day and its consequences.
Over the last couple of years there has been a good deal of talk about how to better involve the schools in emergency preparedness generally. I perceive the talk has failed to move toward much action precisely because of concerns for how some parents will respond.
A riff for our times: Risk readiness requires authentic relationships, focused on tough realities, working together toward resilience.
Given the foundational importance of relationships, we should be mindful of parental concerns, even providing parents the opportunity to opt out their child. But we cannot afford to obscure, neglect, or avoid the tough realities that should motivate personal and neighborhood readiness… especially in our schools. Efforts by schools to engage these tough realities should be encouraged.
Cognitive denial of risk — especially prospective risk — is a natural tendency. It is an especially dangerous remnant of our evolution. This innate predisposition was helpful 10,000 years ago; it is now one of our biggest threats. Our only means to combat this evolutionary maladaptation to the contemporary risk environment is through self-conscious learning and doing. Our formal educational system must be part of this process.
(I apologize for my technical incompetence in being unable to embed the video. I have several maladaptations which trouble my effectiveness.)