Is Christopher Columbus a hero? Schools grapple with how to teach a complicated legacy

October 8, 2018

By Staff

For some schools, Columbus Day is a day off, an occasion to commemorate Italian American heritage and the 15th-century voyage of a navigator who aimed to discover a new route to Asia but happened upon the Americas, instead.

Others, such as Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia, have opted to forgo the holiday, focusing instead on lessons about a polarizing historical figure who did not prove the earth was round or discover America — as schoolchildren were taught for decades — but who, scholars now say, brutally treated native people and spread colonialism.

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