For RB students, 9/11 has become history

Social Studies teacher John Fields discusses teaching about that fateful day

File video (2011)

Isabelle Echevarria, Staff Reporter

September 11 is a difficult day for many people, so it is hard to realize that it has already been thirteen years since the Twin Towers went down, and it’s even harder to realize that the amount of RB students who truly remember it is dwindling. Typically, freshmen at RB are 14 years old, meaning that they were merely one when the events of 9/11 happened. Next year, the incoming freshmen will have no recollection of this memorable day. It is important to know how teachers will go about this, knowing that the personal connection many of us have, no matter how small, is gone.

One of the best ways we can learn about the options teachers will take is to talk to them directly. John Fields teaches Global Area Studies, Sociology, and AP US History here at RB.  While he may be known as a well-loved teacher who doesn’t take anything too seriously, he remembers 9/11 well, and this is one topic where he takes a more serious tone.

Clarion had a chance to sit down with Fields and talk about 9/11, what it meant for him personally, his reaction, and his perspective on 9/11 as a historical event.

Q:  In the past, have you used 9/11 to teach?

A:  Yes, especially in Area Studies, because we cover the Middle East. That’s where I focus on it the most. I’ll usually ask if anyone remembers what was going on and use that, and that’s obviously going to change now, students aren’t going to have memories. I also teach it at the end in AP, because it’s now a historic event.

Q:  How are you going to approach it now, considering your students won’t have memories?

A: We have to keep teaching it the best we can. Kids are definitely going to receive it differently. There is no connection that those of us who remember have. We have to keep teaching it, we have to keep it more I think, especially social studies teachers. We have to add it to our curriculum.

Q: Did it personally impact you?

A:  I didn’t have any friends or family in New York at the time, but I did know people in Chicago, and Chicago had to be evacuated.

Q: Where were you and what were you doing the day of the event?

A:  Teaching in Campaign Illinois and I was at school and a kid came and said, did you hear the news. I hadn’t and when he first told me I almost didn’t believe him, like I was in disbelief, but then we got word of the second plane so the entire day changed. That’s all we talked about the entire day, actually for several days. We were in a sense of like shock. It took several days to actually figure out what was going on.

Q: How did you feel once you knew it was happening, and it wasn’t just a rumor?

A: Mostly shock and sadness, and I was trying to figure out why it was happening.

Q: What were you most worried about?

A: Worried that there was going to be another attack somewhere, and that this meant we were going to war.

Q: What changed for you in the following days?

A: I had a more reflective tone about America. A lot of people thought we were invincible and 9/11 changed that. We were very nervous, very confused. There wasn’t a lot of understanding.

Q: What do you think has been important for America to realize since 9/11?

A: 9/11 shows the consequences of foreign policies when we only think about them in short term. I think it shows that we need a more comprehensive, long-term goal for American foreign policy.

Clarion would like to dedicate this article to those who either lost or sacrificed their lives on September 11, 2001.