Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day! or not

As a teacher I enjoy Columbus Day. It is a chance to catch up on sleep, do some work in advance, and even go back to the gym. Yet, as a child I remember Columbus Day differently...

When I was in Kindergarten someone asked one of my teachers, at a private school, who Columbus was and why he had his own day. In some words my teacher told us exactly who Columbus was and explained that he probably didn't deserve his own holiday. While the discovery of America might have been important 1. there were already people here 2. Amerigo Vespucci (I'm sure I just butchered that spelling) was also pretty important.

I might be blending memories, but this idea was a recurring theme through out my childhood, the history focused on was less than wrapped up in any sort of American spirit. Now as a teacher I wonder, what do my students think about today. Should I be candid about the history or like most kindergarten classrooms make boats out of paper and sing some songs.

What sort of history should we be teaching our students?

1 comment:

Robin said...

Hi. I teach also, but not Kindergarten. (I think that's a tough job...) I believe we should teach the truth when they are ready to embrace truth, but when is that? Our history is so rich, but do we tell five year-old's that Columbus wasn't really a nice guy or do we wait when they are able to understand that Columbus, with his form of wealth distribution, opened up the world for more trade, and thus, raised the quality of living for many Europeans... except of course if you were one of those American Indians shipped overseas and made slave... I vote for the boats.