Teaching History

Jenny D. is talking about a lecture on teaching history that she went to.

The instruction starts with the teacher, Prof. Bain, asking students what do you know about Columbus, his voyage, the people he met on his voyage, what were they like. What were the fears of Columbus?

Students answer with discussion of the ideas that the world was flat, they were afraid they’d fall off. Students disagree on whether Columbus actually proved the world was flat. And how long they people had thought the world was flat.

So the teacher said: How do you know this? How do you know people thought the world was flat, and that Columbus didn’t believe it?

Students said the information came from teachers, and that it was common knowledge in society.

So the teacher wanted to push history more, and asked students to discover whether historians had actually written this in their work. One source was a book by Washington Irving about Columbus. But then the teacher shows evidence of a Roman statue of Atlas holding up the world, and the world is a globe. How can that be, if everyone thought the world was flat?

We were just discussing last night, as an aside in an English class, when people decided the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.

The lecturer sounds interesting. Wish all history was taught like that. Wish I taught history all the time like that.

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