Nathanael Madden is a teacher at Cold Spring Elementary in Potomac, Maryland, and he has decided to take a different path when teaching his students about a very controversial historical figure.
Madden decided that he would teach the real history of Columbus and Columbus Day to his 4th-grade students, and his tweets about his student’s responses went viral.
Madden said about his decision,
“School is often a very confining and controlling place for kids, and I want to create a space for students to feel liberated by learning. I want all students to feel that they are free to be who they are and that they have a place of belonging in my classroom. This also means that we can’t ignore our world’s current realities, as well as how everything has been impacted by historical realities. Through my teaching, I constantly encourage and challenge my students to be critical questioners and critical thinkers so they can be active and informed participants in our world.”
Madden shared a series of tweets in which he talked about how his students responded to his lessons laying out the “alternative history” that is not usually taught in public schools.
“For so long, particularly in the US, the story of Columbus as a heroic explorer has been the dominant narrative, erasing and ignoring the voices of Indigenous peoples who have known the truth for centuries. As we grapple with the myths of American exceptionalism and start listening to the voices of different marginalized groups, we can uncover the truths of history.”
American public education has come a long way since I was in grade school; I don’t remember anything other than praise for Christopher Columbus around the time we celebrated Columbus Day at school.
The times, they are a-changing…and that’s a good thing.