Sydney Chaffee

My 9th graders and I begin our year-long study of “Justice and Injustice” by re-examining the history of Christopher Columbus’s encounter with the indigenous Arawaks.

On Day 1, we explore excerpts from the first chapter of A Young People’s History of the United States to complicate the traditional (and racist!) narrative so many of us were taught as children: that Columbus was a hero who discovered America.

I love the moments that happen throughout that class period as students react to parts of the text that shake up what they thought was incontrovertibly true. It’s a perfect text to launch our investigation into how we can be critical readers, historians, and thinkers.