An Iowa college professor assigned his students to write a “historical account’’ of 9/11 — from the terrorists’ perspective.
“Write a paper that gives a historical account of 911 from the perspective of the terrorist network,” lecturer James Strohman wrote in an assignment for his international studies students at Iowa State University and obtained by The College Fix website.
“In other words, how might al Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened.
“Don’t worry about the fact you don’t agree with the terrorists,” the assignment continues. “The point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives.”
He advised the students that there is no right answer — “just your ability to look at what we consider a heinous action from other perspectives.”
The assignment acknowledges that the task may be a difficult one but that the point is to “get out of the box” and examine the mindsets of other people, cultures and historical perspectives.
University spokesman Rob Schweers defended the assignment in a statement to The Fix.
“As you can see, the assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of September 11, 2001,” Schweers said. “Nor was it designed to support the goals of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”
He added that the task would help students expand their critical thinking skills and analyze international events through a “different lens.”
“This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research,” he said.
Strohman is a registered Democrat who formerly served on the Story County Board of Supervisors and currently works on the Iowa Employment Appeal Board.
Though your teens don’t have their own memories of 9/11, it’s important that they learn about and reflect on that day and its long-term effects. Ask them to write a short essay, journal entry, poem, or even a list about the events of September 11, 2001. Here are a few writing prompts about 9/11 to get them started.
1. Ripple Effect
You may be too young to remember the actual events of 9/11, but you’re not immune to the ripple effect. Write about how the September 11th attack continues to affect even those who have no memory of that day.
There were many heroes during the September 11th tragedy. Write about a hero or a heroic event that you have read about or observed in a documentary. If you need ideas, try one of these.
3. A Different World
Much has changed in the years since 9/11. The events of that day have impacted not just America, but the world. Do you think the world is more or less vulnerable today than in 2001? How have our freedoms been impacted? Write a paragraph explaining your answer.
4. Through Their Eyes
Interview a parent, grandparent, or other adult who remembers the attack of September 11, 2001. Ask about where they were or what they were doing when the attack was first announced. How did they first react? What are their feelings about 9/11 today? Assemble their responses into an essay or poem.
5. Gratitude Is an Attitude
September 11th is a Day of Remembrance. As we honor those who lost their lives on this day in 2001, make a list of at least 10 things in your life that you are thankful for.
If you love our writing prompts, Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!