Columbus and the Native Americans.
In table groups, discuss the following questions:
- What do you know about Christopher Columbus? What is your opinion of him?
- What do you know about Native Americans, also called Indians
- How did you learn about those things?
- How do we know that the History we have learned is true?
- Do Historians have an opinion about the topics they cover? Can they be biased?
Reading 1: Kennedy et al:
As you read, consider the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this text? Why was it written?
- What is the author’s perspective in the text? What is the main message?
- Highlight words or passage who seem to demonstrate a bias, or that could lead the reader to gain a certain opinion on the subject.
Now that we’ve read about the Indians and Columbus.
Use a quote to support all answers
- What is your opinion about them (the Indians and Columbus) based on your reading?
- What themes did the readings focus on?
- If there is a bias, where does it come from and how is it manifested?
- What kind of information was not included in the text? Why do you think they historians chose to omit it?
- How is our perception of History shaped by historians?
- Are certain types of sources less biased?
- Is there value in biased historical texts?
Reading 2: Howard Zinn (You will do this on your own while I am away)
- Make a copy of this document and put your name in the title
- Share the document with me AND hyperlink it here
- You have both periods to read the handout and answer all questions
- Due at the end of class
Part 2: Videos
What is the role of a historian?
- If you were to retell a historical event, what would be the important questions you would want to answer?
- How would you try to report accurate information?
- What methods could you use do do this?
Here are a few methods used by historians:
- Develop then test hypotheses (verify/falsify) (scientific method?)
- Reconstruct the physical events
- Develop a chronology
- Reconstruct the ‘links’ between events and between the artefacts
- Look for specific evidence to find the answer to a specific question
- Test the consistency between the facts
- Determine what is the relevant evidence
- ‘Rethink’ the character’s actions
- Determine what is ‘plausible’
Historians must consider ideas such as:
- the degree to which the evidence is explained,
- the quality of the connections between various facts,
- the degree to which wild and unjustified claims are limited,
- engagement with alternative interpretations and replies to those interpretations,
- simplicity of explanation
- Engagement of the narrative
This all connects to the methodology of History → how historians do History!
Part 3: Groupwork
In groups of 2, you will write a one paragraph description of Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas and Native Americans, with a clear bias for or against him.
- Use words that will emphasize your opinion
- Include/omit the information that will best serve your purpose
- Do not make up facts!
- You will present your paragraph to the class.
- How can you read history and be aware of biases?
- If you were to write about Columbus, what themes would you focus on, knowing that you cannot write everything about everything?
- What themes would you not include?