In the year 1001, Leif Eriksen set foot on what we now call North America. Not a lot of historical records from those times are available, but we can guess that he didn’t immediately start a campaign of rape and enslavement of the indigenous peoples, unlike SOME PEOPLE whose names rhyme with “shmeuropeans.” (Yes, I know Leif was also a European but it didn’t exist like that in 1001).
One of my classes this semester is Colonial American History and today apparently we’re going to talk about Columbus. Judging by the assigned readings, we’re going to debate the pros and cons of Columbus Day and I AM READY. There’s at least one kid that I know is very pro-Columbus and I’m going to completely destroy all of his arguments.
This is what 20 years of life experience brings to the classroom, you guys. It’s almost too easy to demolish 19-year-olds and their narrow worldview but IT IS SO FUN.
The general mood of the class seemed to be
asleep “let’s make Columbus Day into something else, such at Indigenous Peoples’ Day” but of course there was That One Guy.
Quick Quiz; True or False: That One Guy was wearing a fedora.
Anyway, there was a conversation about why people want to honor Columbus, despite him being basically a shit human. TOG: Welllll not everyone is totally bad. Everyone has some good points.
Me: Well, sure. Hitler loved dogs. (Yeah, I had to)
TOG: I just don’t see why we have to ignore our history and all of Columbus’s accomplishments because he did a few bad things.
My Friend (we’ve had a couple of classes together and back each other up): What accomplishments? He was a terrible sailor, a worse businessman.
Me: Yeah, up until his death, Columbus still believed he’d hit India, despite literally everyone telling him otherwise.
TOG: Yes, but... something something erasing history.
Me: I don’t think it’s erasing history to look at the whole, more factual picture.
Then the rest of the class jumped in and it was glorious.
And from there it veered off into: how do we teach history? Whose points of view do we emphasize and why?
It was a good discussion overall, and poor TOG didn’t really talk much after my friend and I started asking him direct questions. He was uncomfortable, and I understand where he’s coming from. I don’t think his worldview has been challenged very much. I hope he learns to think more critically and let himself be taught while he is also learning, you know?