What are they teaching you people?


Yesterday I was talking to my boys about the book I had just finished, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. (Great book, btw, highly recommend.) They asked me what it was about, so I said that it was about a bunch of people in New York City around the time that a guy walked between the World Trade Center Towers.

Philippe Petit walked between the towers in August of 1974. He crossed back and forth six to eight times during a span of forty minutes. His story is told in the film Man on Wire.



I thought this feat was totally amazing, but my kids just stared back at me blankly.

“You know the World Trade Center?”


The two towers that were destroyed on September 11th?


Not a bell rung there. Kind of reminded me of one time when I mentioned Jim Jones to my sister, who was born in 1971, and she had never heard of him either. She said that she would have been watching the Banana Splits in 1978, and she seriously doubted that they would have interrupted that programming to bring news of a mass murder/suicide to their audience.

I realize that my kids are young; Edison was only a year old when the towers fell, and I can remember him toddling around us as we watched the TV and wept for (among many things) his future. But I would think that in all the flag waving and patriotism we get every year around September 11th, there would be some discussion of why we remember that day. Shouldn’t there be?

I do know one thing: Next September, when we commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, there will be some discussion around this house.


5 Comments on “What are they teaching you people?”

  1. Jeff Silvey says:

    Yeah, there totally should be. I think there is, in general. However, I don’t know if they talk about it in schools, or what age would be appropriate to have a lesson on it in class.

  2. Rachel says:

    Hmmm… that’s tough. I would think the older one’s class might do something, but I am not surprised about the younger ones. Let me ask this: Do they know about Hitler? Because if they don’t know about Hitler, they aren’t even close to scratching the 9/11 surface.

    Also, I think the events are too fresh. In fact, they are still going on… and for that reason, they might not teach it. After all, you’d be opening a whole Pandora’s box. After all, it’s not just the one day, you know? The aftermath is still present.

    Last, and least surprising: Schools have NO funding. How often do they update those textbooks? If it ain’t in the textbooks, they probably aren’t bringing it up. Do the textbooks cover the Gulf War??

    p.s.: I do know about Jim Jones now.

  3. egghead23 says:

    I see your points, and certainly all of these discussions would depend on the ages of the students. I was just surprised — especially in Edison’s case since he’s in 5th grade and his curriculum does cover the Holocaust, that he had no idea what I was talking about. Clooney, who’s in second grade, not as surprised.

    I’m sure they don’t talk about the Gulf War, I just figured since we have parades in town and all kinds of media commemorations of Sept. 11th, that there would be some discussion of the events. I’m not so much surprised as interested that the details of things are lost in translation.

  4. Rachel says:

    Sounds like you’ve got a project for next September! I have to wonder if it will come up, considering this will be the 10th anniversary.

  5. Dennis says:

    More importantly, why is Philippe Petit dressed like a figure skater? It would seem to me his flares would get in the way, no matter how silky smooth his pants are. Another topic for discussion, no?

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