Joan Bauer - 
   Joan Bauer Joan Bauer - 
      Teaching 9-11
books to consider




How to say peace in different languages


















September 21st is The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. Here's how to to the United Nations.







































"In viewing art, it's not up to me to determine what it means to everyone else."

Steve Tobin





























The American Place Theatre brings literature to life for schools with one hour adaptions of important works























The "9-11 list-serv" distributes daily e-mails. The archives can be accessed here.
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Art heals. As I look to the 8th anniversary of September 11th, what keeps flooding my mind is the need for peace and understanding.

I want to bring that thought to teachers and students this year. We can never make sense of a tragedy, but we can be made larger by it, stretching ourselves to be peacemakers wherever we are.

I hope the images on this page will touch you. Scroll down and you'll see a beautiful depiction of peace from an artist in Kazakhstan, a flag exhibit on peace such as you've never seen before, and the story behind the tree trunk of 9-11. Two plays and a movie are featured that touch upon September 11th directly and indirectly. I've also included a link from the National Archives with lesson plans for showing students how to best approach artwork or a movie/play.

The rose poster, TOWARD PEACE AND UNDERSTANDING, was photographed and designed by my daughter Jean. Please download it and use it in your classrooms. Why do we have flowers at weddings and at funerals, at good times and bad? I think it's because a flower symbolizes both beauty and death. A flower is not forever, and neither are we on this earth, but while we're here, Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Blog post: "Then and Now"

CURRICULUM UPDATE: Last year this page reported on the 2008 conference at the Liberty Science Center. The museum, along with the Families of September 11 and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, brought together educators, scientists, therapists, nurses, physicians, writers, and politicians to discuss how to teach about 9-11 and terrorism. Extensive curriculum has been written and will be tested in pilot programs for the school year 2009-2010 with the goal of making it available for the tenth anniversary in 2011. Here's the latest:

The seeds of this page began at that conference. See the archives.

What does peace look like?

Faniya Islamova is a much-loved artist from Kazakhstan. When I visited Kazakhstan in 2007 as part of a U.S. State Department trip, I bought this painting. It remains one of my favorite possessions. I see this woman embracing peace with all her heart.

photo: Evan Bauer

photo: Dan Addison

photo: Aaron Fein

Aaron Fein, a sculptor and architect, has created a wonderful tribute to peace called White Flags.

I saw this exhibit in Charlottesville, VA. It is thought-provoking and powerful. He has begun to sew and embroider all the flags of the United Nations, creating each flag from white cloth and white thread.

The project began in 2002, Fein said, "as an expression of grief about 9-11, but it turned into a message about the future."

That message for him personally was about the inevitability of change and the power of hope -- 9-11 changed the world, but now his hope is for a better world.

"There is a Jewish concept, Tikkun Olam, of when the world was created," Fein explained. "The vessel, heaven, was shattered, and it is the job of humanity to repair the vessel and the world.

"As I was creating these flags, I thought of it as stitching this broken thing back together. It really provided me with comfort."

If you or your school is interested in sponsoring a new flag and being part of this ongoing project, contact him at

For more information on this project, watch this news clip or read this article.

photo: Evan Bauer

photo: Evan Bauer

Uprooted by the 9-11 explosion, a sycamore tree protected Trinity Church from destruction. Artist Steve Tobin has re-created the tree's stump and roots in a bronze sculpture. The sculpture now stands in the church's courtyard.

"Shortly after the events of 9/11, I saw the incredibly moving, inspiring story of how the sycamore tree fell upon impact from the fallen towers and protected the historic churchyard from damage," said Tobin.

"All that is now left of the tree is the stump and the roots, which fit into the language of my expression. The terrorists knocked down the buildings and uncovered the strength of our humanity in the roots of New York City, the United States and the world. We are all connected in the roots.

"I feel that this memorial recognizing the uplifting response to the disaster will be the most important sculpture of my career, and I am honored to be given this opportunity by my friends at Trinity Church."

Read the New York Times article, "Uprooted in the Attacks, Now Planted in Bronze"

This video shows how the scuplture was assembled and installed.

Two Plays

Five Bells for 9/11
Playwright and actor, Rich Swingle, says this play "is a memorial to those who died and to those who were wounded physically and emotionally on that infamous morning. The play tells the stories of three people who were directly impacted: Bruce Van Hine, a fire fighter for Squad 41; Lana Ho Shing, a mutual funds specialist for Morgan Stanley; and Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest at the Church of St. Francis.

"I've written this piece in such a way as to leave the audience with new, healing memories linked to those that still wound us. Ann Van Hine, the wife of one of the characters in the play said that we shouldn't be coping, we should be hoping. It is my deepest desire that this play will bring hope and healing to those who experience it."

This is a faith-based drama. Rich is a powerful actor who can stir you one moment and leave you laughing the next.
The website is

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
I saw this one-act play performed in New York City and found it riveting. It is a production of The American Place Theatre based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer about a young boy dealing with the death of his father during 9-11.

The American Place Theatre brings literature to life for schools with one hour adaptions of important works, and offers both preparatory and follow-up exercises to connect the play with students. In some cases, students can interview a character after the play. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is not currently in production, but it's quite possible the play will be staged again. However, the educational guide for it is fantastic and is available at The American Place Theatre website. See it here:

To learn about this innovative theater and its current productions, visit

A Movie Brings Healing Memories

I saw Man on Wire last year, the story of Philippe Petit's walk across a tightrope suspended between the Twin Towers in 1974. It was riveting. People applauded at the end of the film, talked to each other and to strangers as they exited the theater. The images of the towers, the slurry wall in its infancy, the slow but steady rise of the building -- story by story, the workers in hardhats and ultimately the sight of one man walking on air between the two buildings are etched in my mind. I can't stop thinking about them or the story. It occurred to me that something quite extraordinary was happening in the theater. Something that was ultimately more captivating than watching the daredevil Frenchman pull off one of the greatest feats in modern time. It was as if we, the movie goers, were turning back the pages of an old scrap book -- remembering and smiling at the World Trade Center as it was -- not for what it has become since September 11, 2001. At some point, the audience felt what survivors feel as time begins to heal a tragic loss. The last, frightening images of a loved one are replaced with warm remembrances of times past. There is no question that the loss of human life was devastating, but we cannot escape the fact that part of our world, a presence in our day-to-day lives, was also taken from us on September 11th. Man on Wire gives us an opportunity to fondly remember the buildings that anchored the New York City skyline for decades. And with those memories we continue to heal.

Donna A. Gaffney, APRN, BC, DNSc, FAAN
International Trauma Studies Program

From Teachers

It's hard for me to talk about the events of September 11, 2001. When the towers fell I was nineteen and about to head back from New York to the University of Chicago for my sophomore year of college. The tragedy and its aftermath became a part of my journey into adulthood, and I'll never know how much they affected who I am today. Now I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia.

When the shootings occurred at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2007, I was a teaching assistant with sixty students in my three discussion sections. As the media descended on Virginia, I found myself having flashbacks to the blitz of images from the World Trade Center that intensified and came to create my anxiety and depression until I learned how to block them out and talk with my family and friends about what I was feeling. I decided I couldn't keep my lessons from my students when so many of them were grieving for lost, wounded, or frightened friends and family members.

That week my in discussion sections, instead of starting with the first reading, I simply told my students where I'd been on September 11th and what I'd been through in the months that followed. I let them know that fear, anxiety, and depression were understandable and normal reactions to tragedy, but that ignoring them (as I had tried to do) was dangerous and unhealthy. Friends, family, and trained counselors were the best way to get through something like this. I suggested they stop reading newspapers or watching TV news if the images disturbed them. I reminded them of my office hours and invited them to come and talk if they thought it might help. It took five minutes, maybe ten, and then I went on with the lesson. No one came to see me, but I could tell from they way they listened that they would find other people who could help them. As a teacher I could do nothing less.

Jean Bauer
Presidential Fellow
Corcoran School of History
University of Virginia

I feel that students need to be taught not only why 9/11 occurred but also how to be a part of preventing events like this in the future. Fear or jealousy due to a lack of understanding, leading to intolerance and then hatred, occurs worldwide and the students truly are the hope for understanding why this happens and how to help stop this devastating chain of events from being set off in their futures. Siblings experience these emotions at times in families when they feel threatened by new arrivals and feel a sense of competition that makes them fearful of losing their position. If parents do not carefully foster relationships, hatred can and does develop in families. I try to help students understand the feelings people may have and validate them, so that they can understand motivations, while also teaching them why violence is not an acceptable solution to these issues. When we are insecure we want to obtain the most power in a situation to resolve those feelings. If we teach kids how to recognize these emotional issues, be sensitive to them, and address them in a proactive way, they will be a part of ending intolerance in the future. If people choose violence regardless of all your efforts, you also need to take measures to defend yourself, and our country has a responsibility to do so effectively.

Suzette Dilzer
Fifth grade language arts teacher

I was supposed to meet a friend of mine near the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 for coffee. I was running late that day and called my friend from the train platform, but there was no answer. Only later did I learn that my friend survived. She told me about the total chaos, how surreal it felt, the panic. In the midst of this she remembered her friend's uncle who had a sneaker store nearby. She weaved through people and somehow arrived at the store. The owner of the store was yelling and grabbing women and men to give them sneakers so that they could get away. Women were taking off their high-heeled shoes and putting on running sneakers that this man was so frantically trying to find for them. If you are a New Yorker, then you'll know that parts of lower Manhattan still have cobblestone streets and so these sneakers were truly a gift. My friend just stood and watched and wept. He shook her and gave her some shoes and then pushed her out the door. He said that he'd be okay and that he'd leave soon. She walked home to Queens in those sneakers. She made it home and so did he.

On September 11, 2007, I told this story to the 4th grade class I was student teaching in on the upper east side of Manhattan. We had been sharing our thoughts about what we could learn from this tragedy. I hadn't told this story, let alone even think about it for a long time, and I could hardly control the trembling of my voice. The students were speechless at this man's courage and generosity. The discussion elevated to their own behaviors in the classroom. Some of the students said things like, "I could have let 'Jane' go before me on line yesterday," and "We could have picked up book bags and coats in the closet even if they weren't ours." In this brief moment, the students considered how they could be considerate to one another. They shared the possibilities of creating a classroom community without even realizing that was what they were doing.

A 4th Grade Teacher

From the short story, "Children of War" by Joan Bauer,
excerpted from 911: The Book of Help

     We are left with the images that we will never forget.
     They've been branded on our minds. They are part of us now.
     Part of our past. Part of our future.
     Gradually, the pictures will fade, the shadows will take over.
     We'll tell ourselves we should be over it now.
     But we're not over it.
     Not yet.
     Maybe not ever.
     I stand at the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and look across the East River to where the Trade Center had been. I've walked here all my life, walked here with my dog, walked here with my friends. I've Rollerbladed and eaten pizza here, I've laughed, been kissed (once well, once badly), but I never cried on the Promenade until September 11.
     I stand next to the piles of flowers, the photos of the missing, the candles flickering, the flags flying, the people standing quietly in clusters, holding coffee cups, holding each other, remembering the smell of smoke and death that settled over my city.
     We are the children of war.
     They took our parents, our sisters, our brothers, and our neighbors.
     They turned planes into bombs.
     A perfect sunny day became a horror.
     We keep talking about where we were when it happened.
     We'll always talk about it in some way.
     "Where were you?"
     I was in school.
     The lights went out when the first plane hit.
     No one knew what had happened.
     Then gradually the news came.
     We'll tell our children about it and our grandchildren.
     Mostly, we'll turn it over and over in our minds, trying to make sense of what can never be understood.
     If there are solutions, I want to help find them.
     I think one of the ways to find them is through teaching. I don't know what really qualifies anyone to stand in front of a classroom and teach, other than wanting to make things better, wanting to share ideas, wanting to be part of a community of learners.
     I am a New Yorker. I smelled the smoke, saw the ash from the towers, felt the fear settle over my shoulders, had the nightmares, lit the candles, went to the funerals. I wish to God that none of it had ever happened and I thank God that I was here when it did. I've been changed forever--that much I know. And because of that, I want to teach. I want to teach because I want to learn and understand. I believe we have a choice in this world, we, the children of war. We can learn from the hate, we can learn how to stop it, or we can learn to hate even more.

Resource Links

From the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
From the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Podcasts and other oral histories in the multi-media gallery:
National tour exhibition film:
New York State Museum
Tribute Center
Familes of September 11: Support Resources
Library of Congress
American Red Cross
National Archives, Teaching With Documents: Lesson Plans
The "9-11 list-serv" distributes daily e-mails. The archives can be accessed at
To subscribe to the "9-11 list-serv", e-mail and put the word "subscribe" in the subject line.
The September 11th Education Project
Joan Bauer's Letter to a Teacher on September 11, Thoughts on September 11: Dear Teachers: Letters to Another Hero, Published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Voices from the Middle, Volume 9 Number 2, December 2001

If you have broached this subject of 9/11 and terrorism with your students in the past, have lesson plans you would consider sharing, or just want to comment, we'd love to hear from you. Write us at
  • Encourage student artwork and poetry that celebrates a better world.
  • Let students choreograph a dance to commemorate the anniversary.
  • Put up a poster so students can post their thoughts about the attack throughout the week.
  • Tell your class where you were and how you felt when you heard the news.
  • For High School -- Play from "The Rising," Bruce Springsteen's album dedicated to 9-11.
  • Read the excerpt from "Children of War" aloud in class. Click here for the text.

"...schools not only reflect 'official knowledge', but contribute to shaping it..."

Dr. Diana Hess

needs to be developed and shared with educators throughout the country."

Dr. Paul Winkler


"September 11 should not only 'be a day for mourning' -- it should be a day to think about our neighbors, our community, and our country."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY)


9/11 is a National Day of Service.

For more information see: and

Or click on the links below for service opportunities:













If you or your school is interested in sponsoring a new flag, contact Aaron at











"The terrorists knocked down the buildings and uncovered the strength of our humanity ..."

Steve Tobin





























"I've written this piece ... to leave the audience with new, healing memories"

Rich Swingle





























"...time begins to heal a tragic loss..."

Donna Gaffney



















"The tragedy and its aftermath became part of my journey into adulthood..."

Jean Bauer



















"...the students truly are the hope for understanding..."

Suzette Dilzer














  "In this brief moment, the students considered how they could be considerate to one another"

A Fourth Grade Teacher

copyright 2009 Joan Bauer