• What Students and Adults Are Allowed to Know About Christopher Columbus

      Crawford, Kimberly Ann; The College at Brockport (2009-12-01)
      Often students and adults are told of the great accomplishments of Christopher Columbus. Columbus was an important explorer who discovered the New World. This account of history ignores many facts of Columbus. Many people do not know of the enslaving and murder of countless natives, and other atrocities that Columbus committed. The objective of this study was to see what information is provided to students, and what is omitted, and what message this sends to students. This master thesis begins with a detailed historical account of the events preceding Columbus’ first voyage, up to and concluding with his death and an account of his remains. To see what students are being taught about Columbus, the author sampled three textbooks and three websites aimed towards school students. The textbooks sampled were designed for fourth, sixth, and eighth grade students. The websites selected were considered to be useable to elementary and middle school students. One textbook was shown to be neutral in the historical account. It briefly stated an account of Columbus’ voyages to and from the New World. All other sources were positive about Columbus, to the extent of downplaying the natives’ suffering or going unmentioned entirely. Nearly all textbooks and websites left out any mention of the Columbian Exchange and the introduction of many deadly diseases. The enslavement and killing of natives was either omitted entirely or mentioned very briefly. The author worries that this lack of importance given to the natives may give students the impression that people with Native American backgrounds are less important than people of European descent.