Monday, October 8, 2007

Columbus, the Truth behind the Myth

The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-and-effect relationships in US, World, and Washington State history.

GRADE LEVEL: Secondary

BASIC CONCEPTS: Clearing up many of the misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings behind the mainstream view of Christopher Columbus.

ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: The voyages of Columbus changed the lives of American Indians forever. We must begin to present a perspective about him that is more acceptable to the sensitivity of Indian history. Instead of perpetuating the many inaccuracies found in textbooks, or the commonly used terms, ideas and concepts that refer to a biased viewpoint, we must look at the devastation to Native cultures his "arrival" on this continent foreshadowed.

Full plan posted at NIARI Curriculum Project and Norm's Notes

Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute At The Evergreen State College


Anonymous said...


Off topic:

Please take a look at Ms. C's new post. I told her to contact you because what she is doing reminded me why Jeff got in trouble.

Blog name: Yeah, That'll Teach You a Lesson
You can link from NYC Ed.

Sorry my cut and paste isn't working right now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for looking in to this, but I should have warned you that last year her new principal tried to have her fired. I just want her to Cover her you know what.
I am not even sure we are allowed to help students post on

You may have recalled reading about her in NYCEd's blog when she was attacked by a student and the student was allowed to return to her class. She also got in trouble for using "too familiar" language when fooling around with the students. She tried to be a "friend" and is now learning how to draw that line.

I don't trust her new principal at all, and I don't trust her union rep either. We were told we couldn't use our cells in schools. Is this DoE or just my school?? I think I would have advised her to see if her actions were allowed in her school given her history with her last 2 principals.

Anonymous said...

The students are asked to prepare a paper giving their views after being presented with documents that hit them over the head with the proposition that Columbus and European colonization was devastating. Where are the documents that show the Columbian exchange? How many people died, not from colonization, but from disease, which was certainly not planned by Europeans? What about the introduction of modern technology? A written language? The scientific method? Different religious philosophies based on love, not human sacrifice or polytheism? Present both sides of the argument, and no doubt students will come to the conclusion that the savagery of European colonization was morally wrong, that most explorers had profit and exploitation on their minds, but also that the interaction of cultures, while disastrous for the weak, brought about changes, many of them positive.(No more human sacrifice, child sacrifice and mummification, constant warfare, enslavement, and empire building by indigenous peoples, Native Americans vs. Native Americans. This lesson promotes an extreme left wing view of history, does not stimulate debate by presenting all the facts and arguments, and does not let students grow intellectually via debate, discussion, and reasoned argument. The people who wrote this lesson have an agenda to discredit Columbus and Western Civilization. They want to indoctrinate the students against Western Culture.

ed notes online said...

Ok. Say some of your points are valid. Isn't the extreme non-left view the one that has been presented for eternity? What do you mean by Western culture? Isn't that the only view that has been taught?

Check out the book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Hardcover)
by Charles C. Mann (Author)

Anonymous said...

Western culture is European civilization based on classical Greek and Roman institutions in literature, art,science, philosophy, art, etc., and Judeo-Christian ethics and values. Individualism, humanism, pluralistic expression scientific method, etc. Very few books today teach about Columbus without some sort of criticism or mentioning the evils of imperialism. Just because an idea has been presented for a long time doesn't make it wrong; What exactly is your version of the extreme right wing view of this matter? Do you mean that Columbus was a hero? That the natives were savages? That they benefitted from European conquistadores? Can you imagine this being printed in a text without a lawsuit from Native American groups? As for Charles Mann, he is a journalist, a science writer, not an historian or an anthropologist. He cites many controversial theories. And even he blames the devastation of native cultures on overfarming in the case of the Maya, and the population decrease on the spread of disease and the collapse of native societal institutions from diseases brought by the Europeans, which was certainly not planned. Columbus was a brave man, and a bright one; he was also a mercenary, a harsh governor, ruthless and savage by modern standards. What he did changed the world irrevocably, and I think his achievement needs to be looked at in that light. By the way, which of the points I made in the previous post do you feel are not valid?

ed notes online said...

Sorry for delay in responding.
I felt that your talking about human sacrifice, etc indicates an assumption on your part. What you are talking about took place in Mexico and Central America and was far from the truth in North America. If I pointed to some of the excesses of say the Crudades or the 30 years war as indicative of Western Civilazation you might say I distorted things.
I do not view the lesson as a left-wing view but an alternative presentation. I think kids should get both sides and see that history is open to interpretation.
When I was in college my anti-Communist history prof who had been in a Stalin death camp -- you can see his pic I took in Hungrey last year on this blog - had us read some pro_Stalin points of view that blamed the cold war on the USA and from that point of view it made sense. That helped me (a history major) see that the same events can be viewed from totally different interpretations.

I brought up the 1491 book because it is packed with so much amazing info but also subject to interpretation.