Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Past Imperfect

Today I stopped Mrs. Marciano in the hallway to tell her how jealous I am that she had the opportunity to teach these kids for two years in a row.

We have had the most thoughtful discussions over the past few days. I love history, and I really enjoy teaching social studies. I know this isn't most kids' favorite, but at least it affords me the chance to get some of what's in my brain out to the masses.

Right now, we're learning about the discovery of the New World back in the 1400's. I dispelled many things the students thought about Christoforo Colombo's (or as we'd say in the U.S., "Christopher Columbus") journey to the New World. One thing that was new is that Christoforo Colombo did not journey across the ocean to prove that the world was round (people had known the earth was round for a looooong time before Columbus). He thought he was in India. He was not the first person to discover the New World (the Vikings, the Chinese, and I'm sure more would beg to differ). He was the man who introduced greater Europe to the New World, however.

I also shared with them that many things I've read have said he wasn't such a good man. But then I had to backtrack a little bit. I told them that, just like for centuries people called him a great hero, just because so many sources now say he was a bad person doesn't necessarily make it so. That's the thing about history; people are always discovering new things about it.

One thing I really love about history, and I try to convey this to the kids, is that it is all of differing shades of grey (why did that book have to ruin that phrase?). But this brings it to their level. It shows that history is made by very human people, and those people are just like us.

It has been really gratifying for the last two days to see the kids being and looking engaged by their least favorite subject. And selfishly, I'm happy that Mrs. Marciano wasn't able to loop with them again into fifth grade also.

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