Thursday, September 8, 2011

Teaching 9/11: Of Twinkies and Terrorists

"See you in your nightmares, kid!"
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming up this weekend, I've been reading a lot about how it's being commemorated, as well as what our kids are learning in school about it and what's appropriate to be discussed at what age.

My friend Cheryl posed the question on Facebook, and then I read an article in the Chicago Tribune on the topic.  That article basically says that it's all kumbaya -- talking about the meaning of peace and why some people are mean to others -- until middle school when they start getting into discussions about terrorism.

Except that Audrey came home from school with a very long and involved social story called "A Sad Anniversary", complete with a Boardmaker symbol for "terrorist" which I've lovingly rendered above.

Also included was a recipe for "Twinkie Towers"...
"The raspberries and blueberries represent
all the people that were killed that day :(
Now eat up!"

And a joke page...
Because 9/11 was fucking high-larious!

Then there was a quiz to see if you were paying attention...

1) Who flew into the World Trade Center?
A) Pilgrims
B) Knights
C) Terrorists
Audrey went with B.  I blame all that princess crap for warping her sense of history.  

2) Who drew the plans so workers could begin to rebuild?
A) Forest rangers
B) Architects
C) Chefs
She went with C, but in her defense the quiz came right after the recipe for Twinkie Towers.

3) What will the museum have in it?
A) Auditorium
B) Roller coasters
C) Bakery
See #2.

I don't think that Audrey got very much out of this exercise, which is perhaps for the best.  But it may have forever ruined Twinkies for me, and that I cannot forgive.

What about you?  Have your kids brought home any 9/11 lessons?


  1. I'm not really sure where to start, so I will go with "HOLY CRAP" and figure out a more graceful response for another time. Seriously, though? Are these people on crack?

  2. I haven't laughed that hard in ages! A PECS card for terrorist! I'm printing this one out for Nate. We're actually flying on 9/11 - wouldn't this be a great one to whip out in the airport?

  3. Seriously?!?! Twinkie Towers and jokes? I am speechless....
    Audrey loves her some baked goods, enjoy them while you're young Audrey, cause after you turn 30 they will go straight to your thighs;-)

  4. This is sooo not funny!! So why am I laughing so hard?!? Oh gawd, I'm going straight to hell. But we already knew that.

  5. I am really confused by this. Just to be clear, this is real, right? Not a joke post or anything? I can't believe that a school would put out such amazingly unfeeling shit. Twinkie Towers. Holy Fuck, Batman. So not cool.

    The PECS card for terrorists is awesome, though. Just in case I want to teach Ted about profiling...Or men with fireworks?

  6. GA just found out that my grandfather passed away in 2001 before she was born. I told her this when she asked about a photo of him. She is now obsessed with the details of his death. "Why did his lungs not work good? Why did the hospital unplug the lung machines? Were they wasting electricity? Will my lungs stop working? What if Icant breath?I don't want to die. I don't want to be buried in cemetery the with no 2011 Pokemon reference guide!" These are the NIGHTLY questions/concerns I'm fieliding BECAUSE SHE SAW A PHOTO! Not to mention the anxiety I have to attempt to extinguish every single night before bed since she saw the photo.
    If anyone DARE'S to mention terrorism to my kid at school........I will terrorize their InBox with a strongly worded email. 

  7. @Alisha I'll see your HOLY CRAP and raise you a WTF?!!!!! This is one of the most ridiculous, insensitive, ignorant things I've ever seen and to put it out there w/the kids????? sToopid!!!

  8. This is so for real. I have a 12-page social story that goes through the whole thing. Something about seeing PECS symbols along with the words makes it so much worse. They talk about victims and first responders who died, and the PECS symbol for "died" is a tombstone. So first you see a symbol of happy smiling firemen followed by a tombstone. It just blows my mind.

    @Nate's Mom: There's still time if you want me to FedEx it to you.

  9. I'm having a hard time believing this is real?!? Completely insensitive. Crazy shit! Haven't had anything like this come home yet...

    However, last year when Corbin learned about MLK Jr. one of the questions was do you think MLK and his beliefs would want James Earl Ray to get the death penalty for his part in the assassination. I thought that was a bit overboard for my 8 year old. He went around for a couple of weeks telling everyone that MLK was a great man and anyone who didn't like him deserved to die (I don't think that was the message he was suppose to pick up either- oy!!)

  10. I am now afraid to even ask what 9/11 sounds like in the middle school and junior high. Should we just be thankful they didn't roast the Twinkies---I am stunned...positively stunned, and the raspberry and blueberry "folks". I love how your daughter's answers mimic the exercise!

  11. Oh My God, I can't believe this is for real. Very few times do I have nothing and that's what I've got.

  12. If I eat enough cupcakes will I forget this?? That school is gonna take a beating from someone who so doesn't find this funny! :(

  13. I am speechless - What were they thinking? And somehow the joke is offensive despite the fact that it doesn't make sense and isn't even funny.

  14. Okay, seriously, WTF?!?! A twelve page social story complete with PECS involving terrorism and dead firemen for young children with autism? And then making a snack, so you can pretend to eat all the dead people? And a lame ass joke sheet? This is wrong in more ways than I can count!! I am glad that all Audrey latched onto was the snack!! Where I taught this would have been unheard of led to a lost job, but then again I taught just outside DC and for some odd reason they are a little touchy about 9/11.

  15. All I can say is...Are you shitting me????

  16. I read your blog all the time and I have never really felt the need to comment until now. What the hell? Twinkie towers? Joke pages? I'm surprised they didn't have...well, I can't see how...couldn't they I'm speechless!

  17. Wow. There are no words. Except, maybe, what the freak? Ten years ago, I wondered how long it would take to get here. But even I could have never imagined twinkie towers and joke pages...

  18. WTF?!?!?! I didn't think this was real either, and first was laughing, but then I put down my Twinkie and was all, WTF, this is outrageous!

    Wow. Just wow.

  19. Unreal. Symbolistix (c)....seriously? What knuckleheads!

  20. Truthfully, I was laughing my ass off because of the incredible stupidity of this "lesson". What an absolute FAIL in terms of trying to teach children as young as Audrey such a bizarre mix of tragedy mixed with Twinkies? Really - along with everyone else, WTF?!

  21. I kinda don't know what to's all pretty offensive!

  22. @maggie: So glad that you chose this auspicious post to jump on in!

    My suspicion with this was that some really stupid person was going through the motions, creating this "lesson" from a template: story, recipe, joke page, matching exercise, multiple choice Q's, puzzle page, etc. And indeed today Audrey came home with a story about the Pittsburgh Steelers complete with a recipe for "Terrible Towel Turnovers" (get it?). So someone just went along with a cookie cutter template without using their head that perhaps rendering the WTC in Twinkies was not appropriate.

  23. I believe it is actually from a reading program that is set up the same every week to keep the continuity in the lessons. I agree that twinkie towers is a bit much, but for a kid who really needs structure within, taking out the recipe and joke page may have hit a battle the teacher did not feel was worth it. And this is an event that has occurred and the kids are going to hear about it if we talk about it in the classroom or not. At least using this story the kids have an accurate idea of what happened. And that twinkies are the same as the Twin Towers of course.
    Mind you, I do think the teacher could have gone with a different story for the week. The teacher that I know who uses this reading program did not do this story this week. Of course, for all I know, she could be using it next week.

  24. This is from News-2-You, a program designed to provide age appropriate materials to kids who otherwise do not have access to news stories. As a teacher for children who have autism, I used it for a year, but was sick of insensitive materials that made jokes out of emotional events. Plus the recipes are ridiculous. How about we teach kids to make something that actually exists! Anyways, I found this post on my google quest to try to plan a lesson to at least introduce what 9/11 was to my students before we go to the school-wide assembly on Monday. Have no ideas! Haha

  25. I thought Violet would sail past the whole thing without any knowledge, to be honest. I honestly thought that since it happened 2 + years prior to her being born she wouldn't be effected. But on Friday night she came running down the stairs completely out of controly, sobbing her little heart out, saying she couldn't listen to her radio any more, or at all over the weekend. All they were talking about was the planes and the people who died, and a little girl's daddy was killed. The poor thing was inconsolable. She sobbed in my arms for 45 minutes while I was at a complete loss as what to do. It's hard to know what to do, no matter what.

  26. Seriously?

    Fucking warped man.

    My kids don't know about it. Gonna keep it that way for a while.

  27. Please, please, please tell me you made this up. I don't want to believe that it has come to this.

  28. Wow. I have nothing else to say. I'm in shock.