On the 20-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, today’s college-aged students were too young to remember what happened with many having been born after the attacks. Florida students interviewed by Campus Reform said that educators teaching lessons on the terrorist attacks should avoid discussing “American exceptionalism” and “focus on America’s faults.”
Campus Reform reporter Ophelie Jacobson went to the University of Florida to ask students how they thought the deadly 9/11 terrorist attacks should be taught in a classroom.
Students said that educators should “avoid placing blame,” and avoid talking about “American exceptionalism” while teaching about 9/11. Students also suggested that teachers “focus on America’s faults.”
“I think that the 9/11 attacks should be taught in a way that doesn’t really target, like, more like who did it, but, like, more like how we can, like, move forward, and, like, different, like, healing processes that we can go through to, like, make everything, like, you know, good again,” another said.
A third student suggested the curriculum should “avoid placing blame,” because getting into the “specific factors that were at play” will risk people engaging in “Islamophobia,” as well as “ideas of American exceptionalism.”
The students generally did not seem to agree with the concept of American exceptionalism.
“I don’t agree with the idea of American exceptionalism. It’s rooted in a lot of, like, colonist and imperialist notions of, like, how we should treat other people,” one said.
“I don’t think we should be talking about, like, the greatness of the country,” another student suggested.
“I definitely don’t agree that America is the best country on the earth. I think that we still need a lot of, like, fixing,” a third said.
“I think it’s a dangerous mindset to teach young people that, because I think that’s the reason why a lot of people grow up to be kind of extremists and, like, really nationalistic,” another student said.
When asked to react to a recent video posted to the Virginia Department of Education’s YouTube channel telling teachers to avoid talking about American exceptionalism while teaching about September 11, 2001, students said they agreed.
“We definitely should [avoid talking about American exceptionalism], because we don’t need more nationalism in this country. We need more, like, healthcare, I don’t know,” one student said.
“I think they should focus on America’s faults, not, like, how amazing we are and how we need to be superior, because we’re not,” the student added.
Another student said that “in terms of propagating this idea that our nation is the best no matter what, I would agree that that should be avoided.”