Tag Archives: Christopher Columbus

This just in: Columbus not as popular as he used to be

Columbus, from Wikimedia Commons

Here’s an item from the AP on how today’s schoolteachers are giving their students “a more nuanced picture of Columbus than the noble discoverer often portrayed in pop culture and legend.” 

Anybody else having a hard time thinking of instances in which Columbus has been “often portrayed in pop culture” at all these days, let alone nobly?

If that’s been the case in the past, we’re apparently making up for it with a vengeance.  From a Tampa kindergarten teacher: “I talk about the situation where he didn’t even realize where he was.…And we talked about how he was very, very mean, very bossy.”

In Pennsylvania, a group of fourth-graders “put Columbus on trial this year — charging him with misrepresenting the Spanish crown and thievery. They found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.”  I’m not sure what constitutes “misrepresenting the Spanish crown,” but it must be serious.  I hate to imagine what they’d do to Coronado.

Blaming Columbus for all the unfortunate side-effects of European colonization and emphasizing his character flaws aren’t news.  This has been standard operating procedure in both academic and popular circles for some time now.   Why the AP is just now taking notice of this, I have no idea.  I’ve always known that the media don’t pick up on intellectual trends until long after they’ve begun to permeate the popular consciousness, but I didn’t know it took decades.  Or maybe today was just a really, really slow news day.

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Filed under Colonial America, Teaching History