Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week: Columbus and Lincoln

What's coming this week?

Seventh graders: Who is Columbus?  Was he a great leader?  Did he use his power in the right ways?  What were the effects of his journey on Native Americans, America, and the world?  You've gotten a start on this with your homework.

But there's a certain view of Columbus that's especially popular these days.  Here's what some of my friends shared about Columbus on Facebook today:
"maybe we all just need to celebrate Christopher Columbus thinking that the people living on this continent were Indians. That sounds great. Let's do that. gooooooood night"
"Today we celebrate a racist, ruthless murderer and genocidal imperialist! #Cheers!"
"To paraphrase Public Enemy, "Columbus is a hero to most but he never meant (much) to me. (Forget) him and Cortez."
YouTube: Reconsider Columbus Day

Columbus Day e-card

What do you think, seventh graders?  Let's see what we think of Columbus after studying him this week.  Tomorrow: we read Columbus' diary from October 12, 1492.

Eighth graders, we'll be looking at a far more beloved historical figure.  Here's the man:

And here's the plan: we'll learn briefly about Lincoln's early life, then try to put ourselves in his shoes.  Imagine you were president: What would you do if half of the country decided to break away?  What if Union soldiers were trapped inside a fort in South Carolina, surrounded by Confederates?  What would you do?

If you want to start thinking about Lincoln, try watching this PBS film, which is completely available online.  "Looking for Lincoln" is narrated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the highly respected historian who I might have pointed out when we watched "America: The Story of Us" last week.

It's been too long, guys.  Can't wait to see you tomorrow!

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