Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day….Teaching Columbus Day in 2009

Here is an article from Yahoo news about the different ways Columbus is being taught in American classrooms. Not to give anything away, but its not as a hero. Columbus is no longer praised for his “discovery” of the “new world” which we all know by now was quite dubious seeing as people were living there when he arrived. Instead, Columbus is taught as a case study of the perils of the age of exploration. In making his journey, Columbus and his crew exemplified the best the technology of the age had to offer, including, the ability to sail half way around the world (even if they were completely lost). However, once Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he quickly had some ‘splaining to do (at least to those of us looking back at the voyage through history). Namely, it’s hard to appreciate the “discovery” of lands heretofore unknown to Europeans in light of how the Europeans reacted to their discovery.

Columbus discovered natural riches upon his arrival in the modern day Bahamas, including an indigenous population. Once in the Americas, Columbus and those who followed inaugurated a practice of taking resources that did not belong to them, while leaving disease and destruction in their wake. I guess this is the kind of behavior that prompted school children to describe Columbus as “very, very mean, very bossy.” (See Yahoo).

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