In Mrs. Macintosh’s second grade class at the Lawrence Elementary School in Brookline, Massachusetts, the October 1965 lessons focused on social emotional health. We were encouraged to believe in ourselves and our ideas, even if they were unpopular, to be creative and question authority. We were told that other worlds were possible, other ways of viewing our existence. We were encouraged to explore and discover.

We were encouraged to be like Christopher.

The Christopher Columbus we learned about was a curious child who believed in himself who became an adult who discovered a new world and a new way of understanding planet earth.  The Columbus of Mrs. Macintosh’s class was not connected to slavery, genocide, rape, conquest, or colonialism. He was fictional.

Some of us grew up to learn we were lied to. Others, it seems, did not. Weirdly, in 2022 the fight over how we present the past to children, including the story of Cristoforo Colombo, is now all wrapped up in a contest over social emotional learning. Mrs. Macintosh — a teacher I adored, understood the importance of addressing the needs of the whole child. I believe she did not know the depth of the lie she was telling about Columbus. Educators today have no excuse.

Children deserve to be treated at school as though they are whole people with the full array of human needs. They also deserve the truth.

Happy Indigenous People’s Day.

#Indigenouspeople’sday #Columbus #socialemotionallearning #CRT #Ethnic Studies