Academic Controversy in the History Classroom This workshop is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University. Historical Question: Was Christopher Columbus a villain or hero?Author: June CavanaughClass/Grade Level: 6th Grade Social StudiesCT Social Studies Standards:6th Grade 1.3 – Significant events and themes in world history/international studies. 5. Explain how a civilization/ nation’s arts, architecture, music and literature reflect its culture and history. 6. Analyze how specific individuals and their ideas and beliefs influenced world history.Overview:The meaning of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America is highly contested. Some believe Columbusshowed incredible strength and courage. They believe he was a great explorer and traveler. On the other hand,Columbus’s voyage and later voyages to America directly resulted in the extermination of the indigenouspeople through ill-treatment and disease. Similarly, these voyages aided the enormous growth of thetransatlantic slave trade.Document Summary:1. Document 1 shows the coat of arms given to Columbus from the Spanish royals. This coat of armssymbolizes Columbus’s need for a reward. This document shows how Columbus often acted based on greed.On the other hand the document shows Columbus’s hard work. It shows the Spanish royals believed he was ahero for his work.2. Document 2 is a collection of agreements between Columbus and the Spanish royals. This excerpt from theBook of Privileges contains information about Columbus’s fourth voyage to the New World. The documentsconfirmed Columbus’s rights to titles and profits. This documents shows Columbus is a hero and again how heis rewarded for bravery, determination and his many trips (4) to the New World. However, again it showsColumbus’s greed for money.3. Document 3 is an illustration of Santiago converting the indigenous people of America to Christianity.Christopher Columbus and the conquistadores that followed him converted the people of America toChristianity using this symbol. This picture is a symbol of the Europe’s attempt to civilize the people ofAmerica. European’s believed they were doing the people of America a favor. They believed they were makingthem “better.” Conversely, they destroyed the culture of the people.
4. Like Document 3, Document 4 symbolizes the destruction of culture. Document 4 is a picture of a church inCuzco which was constructed on top of the remains of an Incan temple. The obvious combination of Christian,Muslim and Incan cultures are evident in this photograph. However, like with Document 3, it can be argued thatthe introduction of Christianity civilized the people of America.5. Document 5, is an excerpt from Christopher Columbus’s journal in 1492. This excerpt, dated SaturdayOctober 13th, describes Columbus’s first impression when he met the people of America. The excerpt showsColumbus is curious about the new people and their land. He is also impressed with their “wonderful manner”and generosity. However, he also is intrigued by the jewelry they are wearing and hopeful that they have moregold.6. Document 6, is also an excerpt from Columbus’s journal. This excerpt from Friday October 19th, describesthe beauty of America. It also shows Columbus is interested in the new species of animals and plants. Althoughit is obvious from this excerpt Columbus is a great explorer with an interest in discovery it is also obvious he isstill very intrigued by the resources of America. Towards the end of the entry Columbus states, “I shallpenetrate so far as to reach the village and see or speak with the king, who, as they tell us, governs all theseislands, and goes dressed, with a great deal of gold about him.” This statement shows, that Columbus is greedyand hopes the Indians have gold to offer him.Procedure (80 minutes): 1. Introduction of lesson, objectives, overview of SAC procedure (15 minutes) 2. SAC group assignments (30 minutes) a. Assign groups of four and assign arguments to each team of two. b. In each group, teams read and examine the Document Packet c. Each student completes the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2), and works with their partner to prepare their argument using supporting evidence. d. Students should summarize your argument in #3. 3. Position Presentation (10 minutes) a. Team 1 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 2 records Team 1’s argument in #4. b. Team 2 restates Team 1’s position to their satisfaction. c. Team 2 asks clarifying questions and records Team 1’s answers. d. Team 2 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 1 records Team 2’s argument in #4. e. Team 1 restates Team 2’s position to their satisfaction. f. Team 1 asks clarifying questions and records Team 2’s answers. 4. Consensus Building (10 minutes) a. Team 1 and 2 put their roles aside. b. Teams discuss ideas that have been presented, and figure out where they can agree or where they have differences about the historical questionClosure:Thumbs Up / Thumbs down: Pose a question that can be answered thumbs up/down/ sideways, ask forexplanation of the decisions. What Columbus a hero or villain? Take a class poll
Assessment: Verbal/Linguistic: Write a paragraph explaining your point of view. Be sure to include specificsupporting details using the six primary sources.Differentiation: 1. Grouping based on readiness (higher students with lower students) 2. Assessment - for visual learners: create a costume for Columbus depicting him as a villain or hero.
DOCUMENT PACKET Document 1As a reward for his successful voyage of discovery, the Spanishsovereigns granted Columbus the right to a coat of arms, an honorfor his hard work. Source: Columbus Coat of Arms In Christopher Columbus, His Book of Privileges, 1502 Facsimile. London, 1893. Harisse Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division
Document 2The Book of Privileges is a collection of agreements between Columbus and the Spanishmonarchy before his 4th and final voyage to America. The set of documents includes the 1497confirmation of the rights to titles and profits granted to the Columbus by the 1492 Contract ofSanta Fé. Source: Book of Privileges In [Christopher Columbus] [Códice Diplomatico Columbo-Americano] Vellum. [Seville, ca. 1502]. Manuscript Division
Document 3According to legend, Santiago (St. James) converted Spain to Christianity and after his death hisremains were moved to Santiago de Compostela. A later addition to the legend has Santiago riding awhite steed and carrying a white banner, appearing in a radiant cloud above Christian troops battlingMuslim forces. The notion of Santiago symbolizing Christian triumph over non-Christians was part ofthe mental world that the conquistadores brought with them to America.Christopher Columbus and the conquistadores that followed him converted the people of America toChristianity using the symbol of Santiago. This illustration shows such a scene. Source: Conquista. Milagro del Santiago Photoreproduction from Guaman Poma de Ayala, Nueva Coronica y Buen Gobierno [facsimile of early 17th century manuscript (Paris, 1936)]. General Collections
Document 4This church in Cuzco was constructed on top of the remains of an Incan temple.The obvious combination of Christian, Muslim, and Incan cultures are all evident inthis photograph. Source: Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Cuzco, Peru Photoreproduction from original photograph. Prints and Photographs Division
Document 5This document is from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492.Saturday, 13 October. "At daybreak great multitudes of men came to the shore, allyoung and of fine shapes, very handsome; their hair not curled but straight andcoarse like horse-hair, and all with foreheads and heads much broader than anypeople I had hitherto seen; their eyes were large and very beautiful; they were notblack, but the color of the inhabitants of the Canaries, which is a very naturalcircumstance, they being in the same latitude with the island of Ferro in theCanaries. They were straight-limbed without exception, and not with prominentbellies but handsomely shaped. They came to the ship in canoes, made of a singletrunk of a tree, wrought in a wonderful manner considering the country; some ofthem large enough to contain forty or forty-five men, others of different sizes downto those fitted to hold but a single person. They rowed with an oar like a bakerspeel, and wonderfully swift. If they happen to upset, they all jump into the sea, andswim till they have righted their canoe and emptied it with the calabashes they carrywith them. They came loaded with balls of cotton, parrots, javelins, and other thingstoo numerous to mention; these they exchanged for whatever we chose to givethem. I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold. Seeingsome of them with little bits of this metal hanging at their noses, I gathered fromthem by signs that by going southward or steering round the island in that direction,there would be found a king who possessed large vessels of gold, and in greatquantities….”VocabularyMultitudes: huge in numberHitherto: up until nowInhabitants: peopleCalabashes: gourdsStrive: do your best Source: Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.asp
Document 6This document is from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492.Friday, 19 October. “…This is so beautiful a place, as well as the neighboringregions, that I know not in which course to proceed first; my eyes are never tiredwith viewing such delightful verdure, and of a species so new and dissimilar to thatof our country, and I have no doubt there are trees and herbs here which would beof great value in Spain… Upon our arrival here we experienced the most sweet anddelightful odor from the flowers or trees of the island. Tomorrow morning beforewe depart, I intend to land and see what can be found in the neighborhood. Here isno village, but farther within the island is one, where our Indians inform us we shallfind the king, and that he has much gold. I shall penetrate so far as to reach thevillage and see or speak with the king, who, as they tell us, governs all these islands,and goes dressed, with a great deal of gold about him. I do not, however, give muchcredit to these accounts, as I understand the natives but imperfectly, and perceivethem to be so poor that a trifling quantity of gold appears to them a greatamount….”VocabularyVerdure: The lush greennessPenetrate: make a way intoTrifling: small Source: Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.aspSome of the language and phrasing in these documents have been modified from the originals.
CAPTURE SHEET Historical Question: Don’t forget the rules of a successful academic controversy! Was Christopher Columbus a 1. Practice active listening. 2. Challenge ideas, not each other villain or hero? 3. Try your best to understand the other positionsPreparation: 4. Share the floor: each person in a pair 1. Highlight your assigned position. MUST have an opportunity to speak 5. No disagreeing until consensus- Yes: Christopher Columbus was a villain building as a group of four No: Christopher Columbus was a hero 2. Read through each document searching for support for your side’s argument. Use the documents to fill in the chart (Hint: Not all documents support your side, find those that do):Document What is the main idea of this document? What details support your position? # 3. Work with your partner to summarize your arguments for your position using the supporting documents you found above:
Position Presentation: 4. You and your partner will present your position to your opposing group members. When you are done, you will then listen to your opponents’ position. While you are listening to your opponents’ presentation, write down the main details that they present here: Clarifying questions I have for the opposing partners: How they answered the questions:Consensus Building: 5. Put your assigned roles aside. Where does your group stand on the question? Where does your group agree? Where does your group disagree? Your consensus answer does not have to be strictly yes, or no. We agree: We disagree: Our final consensus: