Carmen G. Aguilar

I am a retired bilingual-bicultural teacher in Chicago. For 17 years I taught second grade in a gifted program at Orozco Academy, in Pilsen, mostly Mexican neighborhood in the city. One lesson I taught my students was about the Columbus Day question and the Abolish Columbus Day concept.

Even before Rethinking Schools published Rethinking Columbus, I always asked my students: “Why we don’t have classes on October 12?” There were many answers, some of them were “Es el día de Cristobal Colon” or “Es el cumleaños de Cristobal Colon” or “Es el Dia de la Raza” or “I don’t know…”

We started the journey of finding out who was that señor Cristobal Colon, Christopher Columbus. Where was he worn, in what time did he lived, what he has to do with us, what believes people have about the world at that time, etc. We look for information,the students designed a questionnaire with 5 questions to ask their parents, or other relatives, like “Did you celebrated Columbus Day in Mexico?” “What do you know about the character” “Should be celebrate what happened in October 12, 1492?” “Was this part of the world inhabited” etc., etc.

By the end of the lesson, the students created a picture book with 12 pages, on each page they draw something related to the “holiday” and wrote one or two sentences for each drawing, and we created a show outside the classroom with all the books.

The older students and the teachers were very interested and came to ask questions to our class. They were intrigued why the young second graders decided that October 12 was not a day of celebration, but a time to commemorate the fight of indigenous people in the continent of America, since 1492 to this day, for their rights and dignity.