Monday, September 11, 2006

flashbulb memory

I was sitting in my office, preparing the lecture for my 9:30 class. My TA called and asked if we were still going to have class because planes had crashed into each of the World Trade Center buildings. First I'd heard of it. I'm not sure I even fully believed her at first.

(And, in retrospect ridiculously, I ended up teaching both my classes that day. Let's just say I have regrets about that.)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bush just sat still in a class when he heard about it, so don't feel too bad about yourself.

Anonymous said...

I met my class but then let them go after about 10 minutes. Just could not do it. I was later told that 'we don't cancel classes at UW.' So, according to university policy, you did the right thing.

Shelley

dorotha said...

i had to tell my students about it because many of them just rolled out of bed to get to section. i offered to let people go who wanted to, especially if they had family they were worried about. no one left, probably because it was the beginning of the semester and they . also, i don't think everyone believed me

dorotha said...

oops, typo. i meant to write "... probably because it was the beginning of the semester and they were trying to make a good impression."

Anonymous said...

Taught both my classes that day and can't say that I have any regrets. For the next two weeks, as students attempted to turn 9/11 into an early fall break, I had to remind students that the U.S. had been at war many times before, and, lo and behold, universities continued to hold classes...

Sister A said...

No regrets, Jeremy. Life is about having no regrets. If you dwell on the past, you're missing out on the present. Now have a great day!

Gwen said...

I was at the Geography library and the librarians were listening to a radio newscast about it. I thought it was some type of science fiction program and thought it was sort of funny they'd be listening to it so loud in the library. They had to repeat to me several times that it had actually happened, and I think even then I was sort of unable to grasp the concept.

dorotha said...

i was weirded out because i was watching it live when the second plane hit. mostly, like gwen, i was really confused. my students, though, were indifferent.

jeremy said...

Given that was (arguably? inarguably?) the most consequential day in US history in the past 20 years, it seems reasonable to think that the marginal minute of students' (not to mention my own) morning might have been better spent watching its developments live. So I'd rather have not have held class, although Shelley does remind me that we had been told in faculty meetings repeatedly prior to this about how 'we don't cancel classes at UW,' although presumably that was directed more at faculty members canceling class when they had to be out of town as opposed to terrorist attacks.

Drek said...

Jeremy, for what it's worth on that day I think some of us needed a little normalcy. Maybe you would have preferred to cancel class but, then and there, I don't think you can be faulted for your decision.

Jim Gibbon said...

All my students were Turks learning English in Istanbul, and they were surprised that I showed up to teach on 9/11. But I had no idea what had happened. I had been biking on an island with a friend and misjudged how long it would take to get back to the city. I rushed back to the langauge center embarrassed to be wearing shorts (a no-no, but I didn't have time to change) and arrived to grim faces, and someone said, "We didn't think you'd come today." I had no idea what he was talking about, but I joked about my shorts.

Our teacher room jutted out from the building and was flush with the adjacent apartment's balcony, where a TV was on. The other teachers pointed me to the screen and that's when I learned.

A few minutes later I went into the classroom and everyone tried to say something like "I'm sorry" in English or Turkish. It was a few weeks later when a British teacher at the center told me that, in private, some of the students told her they weren't upset at all, on the contrary...

Anonymous said...

I attended a morning lecture on 9/11, and even though I found it excusable that the professor held class - I was in shock, too - I also held it against him. Until today, when your expression of regret somehow made me forgive him.

islander said...

Yeah, it was a shocker for me that you held class but I guess the magnitude of it all wasn't readily apparent to everyone - particularly as the places in question are not close to home for many of us.

I was terrified - seeing live footage of the pentagon clinched it for me. We were under attack. Then, in the car on the way to your lecture, one of the towers crumbled and the news anchor cut to someone on the ground. Instead of hearing a report, however, all we could hear was frantic screaming, "Where's Tony? Where's Tony?" I felt right then that the world was likely coming to an end.

As crazy as it sounds, it ended up being comforting to engage in the mundane experience of sitting in your lecture. Reassurance - perhaps life will go on.