Across the metropolitan area, teachers are using the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to convey the lessons of an event that stirs strong emotions and holds grave significance for adults but for which their students have little — if any — memory.

Some schools have special events planned, such as an assembly or a moment of silence. Others are delving into a curriculum that victims’ family members helped create. They talk about violence — but also about respect, tolerance and how to inspire change in the world.

“It’s a tricky topic,” said Kelly Goldberg, a Bannockburn middle school teacher. “We need to walk a fine line between overwhelming them with the negative, but we can’t sugarcoat it either. These are our future grown-ups.”

Teaching about 9/11 is not mandated in Illinois public schools, but genocide education is required. What happened at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on that brilliant Tuesday morning can be woven into other tragic global events — Darfur, Cambodia, the Holocaust — and can just as easily pop up in a religion or media class as in history, teachers say.

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