When I read in the Washington Post this morning that a new 9/11 history curriculum -- created by victims' families -- is being debuted in a handful of high schools around the country, I was skeptical. The curriculum relies heavily on emotional video interviews with 9/11 survivors. Will that really give teenagers too young to remember the attacks a sense of their political and historical impact?
So I downloaded a few of the lesson plans, and I have to say, I'm cautiously impressed. The curriculum includes a 30 year history of American involvement in Afghanistan, and discusses Osama bin Laden's evolution from an American ally into the leader of Al-Qaeda. In one exercise, students are introduced to five possible foreign policy responses to terrorism: Unilateralism, multilateralism, isolationism, hard power, and soft power. They are asked to share their gut impressions of each idea, and then read defenses of each, including President Bush's 2002 West Point commencement address and an excerpt from an article by Joseph Nye, the international relations theorist associated with "soft power."
Glad to see these lessons don't shy away from political debate.