Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Day, and a Question for Teachers and Parents

Happy Thanksgiving Day to Canadians!

We celebrated early by going to a dinner party on Saturday night at a friend's house, where we had great food and even better company.

Yesterday we went to a Sukkot (harvest festival) party at another friend's house. It was fun trying to decide which of the many samples of chocolate cake was the best.

Here's a link to a wonderful-sounding film (I haven't seen it yet), a comedy written and produced by Israeli Orthodox Jews about Sukkot. It's named "Ushpizin."

Today, Monday, is also Columbus Day (or some other named holiday) for Americans. I guess we all want to have a long weekend in October.

I get why Columbus isn't a politically correct person to celebrate. Here's a link to a video parody by John Oliver and Last Week Tonight, entitled, How Is This Still a Thing?

My question to American and Canadian parents and teachers is:

When I was in Grade Five, Columbus was considered a great explorer. What do teachers teach kids about Columbus today? (I need this for some background for one of my projects. I'm not writing about Columbus.)



  1. It's been a long-holiday here, also, though not the Canadian Thanksgiving part. I got the Sukkot/Columbus or Indigenous People's Day/DD's BD thing going.

    Living near Berkeley, Columbus is "out" politically speaking. I think it is a pity, personally. Regardless of who found the continent for Europeans, it was a watershed moment to commemorate, and it is far from "all bad" from my perch. This country has been a haven to so many, my people (Jews) in particular. I'm more than fine acknowledging this shift-change even as it was not all happy or wonderful for all. As to kids now, even around ultra-liberal Berkeley, the "indigenous People" replacement has not managed to take hold. Columbus is out, but noting else came to replace it. It's just a long weekend now, always welcome.

    1. Thanks for your reply, Mirka. Maybe it depends on where you live...

      In my opinion, it's revisionist history. Sometimes (if not often)bad things happened in the past. But it's important to remember the past so you don't repeat it.

  2. My kids know the basics about Columbus. I don't know what they're taught in school. It's ridiculous to change history -- Columbus was just a guy: not perfect and not evil.

    1. Thanks for answering, Robin. Interesting.

      I asked my question to a former teacher friend. He said that none of the explorers are covered in Ontario schools and haven't been in years, with the exception of people like Radisson--Canadians exploring Canada.

      I think this is a mistake. But no one is asking me to write the curriculum...

      In my opinion, kids need to know about the past. If we hide things from them, they'll find out eventually: a clue here and there. They'll get fragmented and probably incorrect information. And that is the biggest danger of all.

    2. I should add that I applaud the idea of also teaching kids about the indigenous peoples and their cultures, as well.

  3. How do you teach the history of the Americas without including how the Europeans got here? You can reduce the Eurocentricity of the curriculum without ignoring the explorers entirely. But balance is seldom achieved, it seems.

    1. You're so right, Marcia.

      Here in Canada, for instance, kids are sure to ask, at some point, why French is our second language.


Give a hoot.