Teachers, how do you tackle teaching students about the actual legacy of Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Exchange? We know Columbus was not a good guy, and that it makes little to no sense that there’s such a thing as Columbus Day — but it does make for a good teaching opportunity about the role of perspective in history.
When I taught Social Studies, I usually taught students about the Columbian Exchange — the exchange of goods between the “Old World” (Europe and Africa) and the “New World” (North and South America). (If you have BrainPop, here’s a video on The Columbian Exchange.)
During the Columbian Exchange, both Goods and Diseases were exchanged. Mentioning that something bad (diseases) were also exchanged usually opens the door to discussing unintended (or intended, and/or downright evil) consequences of historical events, which leads us into discussing the dark legacy of Columbus, and how/why he might be considered the grandfather of the slave trade. This opens the door to a lot of high level discussions.
Also, here are two cool resources…
- 10 things you probably didn’t know about Columbus
- And my favorite, from The Oatmeal: Why Christopher Columbus was not good (but this other guy, Bartolome de las Casas was better)
The featured image is actually a screen grab from the post from The Oatmeal.