Discovery Means Finding out. What will we Learn Tomorrow? Discovery may bring Joy, or Discovery may bring Sorrow.
Some municipalities and states have already adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an alternative to Columbus Day. Others have not (yet.) Some people are grateful that the powers-that-be have recognized that Columbus and other “explorers” were not “discoverers,” but were violent colonizers. Others are exceedingly unhappy about this movement and feel that their American heritage is being disrespected yet again by those who “hate America” and just like to complain. (Do they ever wonder who peopled the Americas?)
You may recall that I’m a retired elementary teacher. Among our great grab bag of skills is devising ways of commemorating American civil celebrations by providing historical information through heart-warming, adorable skits and performances. Parents, and other important grown-ups, then record the event, highlighting face paint, lisps, and costumes fashioned from plastic tablecloths. Facts are not the focus.
My particular elementary school has a population that is two-thirds native Spanish speakers via the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. At some point in the early 90s, our school stopped “celebrating” Columbus Day and began to explore that 1492 had vastly different meanings and consequences for various peoples.
No, we didn’t overwhelm our students with what some today might call “woke” history, but neither did we present the saccharine story of Columbus and his crew benignly “discovering” people who were already there. We simply provided age-appropriate facts and reading resources, and encouraged students to ask questions.
I devised an acrostic for the controversial concept of “discovery,” which my class presented. I think it’s fairly accurate and appropriate for youngsters. It may also cause “oldsters” to think twice. Heritage doesn’t begin and end with American holidays. Thanksgiving is approaching, which will provoide another opportunity for discussion, and every ethnicity is indigenous to somewhere.
D is for Discovery, a way of finding out. What good or ill can discovery bring about?