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Teacher assignment for 9/11 sparks outrage from some middle school parents. UPDATED with My Dd's take on this asgnmnt.

Posted by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM
  • 114 Replies

Personally I think this assignment was awesome. 


A 7th grade homework assignment is causing outrage by several parents.

"It was almost like reading a suicide note," said Kate Gurka.

Her daughter is a 7th grader at Fairview Junior High at Alvin Independent School District. Gurka says she spotted a shocking letter in her 12 year-old daughter's folder on the eve of 9/11.

"She told me, 'mom the teacher wants us to write a letter like we were stuck on a tower or on a plane and then she showed me the paper.' I just thought it was absolutely ridiculous," said Gurka.

The assignment came from a language arts teacher at the junior high school.

"They are supposed to pretend that they are either on the twin towers or on the plane and that they are not going to make it out. This is their goodbye letter," said Gurka.

We got a copy of the directions given to the students from the teacher that read in part:

'If you knew you were about to die, who would you want to be the last person that you talked to? Write a letter to that person. What would you want them to know? Please give a lot of thought to this letter."

We posted the assignment on our Fox 26 Facebook Page and received hundreds of comments agreeing and disagreeing with the homework.

Shadia Khanter wrote: 'Simply tasteless and insensitive...too soon and too much for 7th graders.'

Angelique Berry wrote: 'I see nothing wrong with this... [it's] empathy, reflection & opens the mind. I wouldn't mind my children doing this assignment at all. Kuddos to the teacher.'

Alvin ISD released a statement saying in part:

We sincerely apologize to any of our families that found this activity to be insensitive. As educators, we strive to meet the individual needs of our students both instructionally and emotionally while maintaining a high level of sensitivity.

"I don't want her to lose her job. I'm sure she is a fantastic teacher but she needs to lower her thoughts," said Gurka.

You can tell us what you think about the assignment by going onto our Fox 26 Facebook page.

Read more: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/23420474/911-homework-assignment-causing-outrage#ixzz2enaq7a93


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edit for my own comments


I decided to give this assignment to my 4th grader tonight. She is 9.5. I gave her the exact instructions  these kids were given. 

We have talked about 9/11 in this house at length from when my girls were very young. She knows what happened, has watched numerous documentaries on it with me, knows Grandpa (my dad) was in the pentagon that day, lost 8 from his office and I went all day not knowing if he survived. She knows that daddy lost his cousin and her husband as flight attendants on the plane that hit the pentagon, and also knows that one of my honors students who joined the Marines right out of school was one of the first KIA's in Iraq. He gave up his full ride to FSU in order to join the Marines. 

My mom encouraged me the day this happened while waiting for word on my dad,  to pen all my thoughts as I was going through it and save them. I let her read them last year when she started asking more indepth questions about it. She was 8 then. 

She has the weekend to write the letter. I think most would be shocked at the depth of thought and emotions our kids are capable of handling and at what age. She wasn't upset at all. She said. Whew mom. It's going to be hard to decide the one person I would write to. Can I just say my parents? I told her she could do it however she thinks she would do it if she knew she wasn't going to make it out alive. 

I don't think it's a bad thing to teach our kids reflection, empathy, and to think from another persons plight or point of view at early ages. It's also not a bad thing to keep this kind of tragedy fresh in their minds so that our future leaders will have some perspective making decisions when their time comes. 

I'll post the letter in the OP when she is done. 

EDITED for what my 9 yr old wrote when given this assignment. 

I didn't edit this or give her suggestions. If a 4th grader can handle the subject matter? 7th graders are more than capable. 


by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM
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Replies (1-10):
rfurlongg
by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:34 PM
7 moms liked this
For a 7th grader I think it is a very appropriate assignment.

Reflection and empathy, the main focus of the assigment, should be well developed and hopefully progressing at that age.

I strongly, strongly, disagree with Gurka.
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IhartU
by Gold Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:34 PM
4 moms liked this

Why would it be wrong to put yourself in the shoes of some dying on that day? It teaches compassion and empathy and makes one appreciate their life and loved ones more.

Liz_Rocket
by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM
2 moms liked this
I think she did it to make it real to them. Their mothers were either pregnant with them or they were small babies when it happened. I think it opens opportunity for serious discussion with them. I wouldn't have a problem if my children had been assigned this, but I know I'd be in a puddle of tears if I read what they would write. :(
DestinyHLewis
by Destiny on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM


Totally agree. This mom needs to get a grip. 

Quoting IhartU:

Why would it be wrong to put yourself in the shoes of some dying on that day? It teaches compassion and empathy and makes one appreciate their life and loved ones more.



xoxRachelxox
by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM
2 moms liked this

I don't think there's anything wrong with this assignment. I think it's very thought provoking and that's a good thing.

fliptopz4
by Bronze Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM
3 moms liked this

We wrote our obituaries in elementary school. It was suppose to be written as if we died at a ripe old age listing all the things we accomplished in our lifetime.It didn't harm us but it did make us think about our goals in life and what we wanted to do.

DestinyHLewis
by Destiny on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:40 PM
1 mom liked this


I was in tears watching it on the news, and 

100% agree with what you said. I think it was an excellent assignment. That is a good teacher! 

Quoting Liz_Rocket:

I think she did it to make it real to them. Their mothers were either pregnant with them or they were small babies when it happened. I think it opens opportunity for serious discussion with them. I wouldn't have a problem if my children had been assigned this, but I know I'd be in a puddle of tears if I read what they would write. :(



IhartU
by Gold Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:43 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting DestinyHLewis:


Totally agree. This mom needs to get a grip. 

Quoting IhartU:

Why would it be wrong to put yourself in the shoes of some dying on that day? It teaches compassion and empathy and makes one appreciate their life and loved ones more.



 I think many people fear facing their own death. They don't want to think about what they would have gone through on that day and the choice they would have had to make- it's too morbid for them.

 My children all sit down with me around 9/11 every year and we watch all the documenteries on tv and we discuss everything- including what they would have done if faced with the decision of burning alive or jumping from the buildings. It's life- it really happened and those were all real people who had families who loved them, jobs they went to every day and dreams for the future and they were made to face death when they least expected it.

 It's a tragedy that we shouldn't shield our children from but use to teach them the many lessons that come from horrors people deal with every day.

pamelax3
by Gold Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 2:54 PM
3 moms liked this

This is a great assignment, it puts all the events of 9/11 into reality for these kids

 

"I don't want her to lose her job. I'm sure she is a fantastic teacher but she needs to lower her thoughts," said Gurka.

Why would this even come out of a parents mouth, lower her thoughts to what

jllcali
by Jane on Sep. 13, 2013 at 3:01 PM
1 mom liked this
I think the assignment was appropriate to age and beneficial. The protesting mother needs to get a grip.
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