Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 4PM, Day 2) – Fact and Fiction: The New World
Today, we investigated the concept of perspective, by looking at how the same story can be told differently by two different people. We first read the story of the Catholic priest Bartolomé de las Casas, who told a very different story about Columbus’s meeting with the Taíno people than Columbus did, emphasizing the cruel treatment by the Spaniards. Students then practiced the concept of perspective by writing a story about a time they had an argument with a sibling or friend. I then invited the students to write the same story, but from the voice of the person they were arguing with. I was proud of the way that many students realized that their friends perspective was just as important as theirs. This exercise helped us to grapple with the two very different stories of the meeting between Hernán Cortés and the Aztec ruler Moctezuma. We even played the game “Telephone” to show that sometimes the story can change before we even get to read it! All of these are ways that stories can become distorted. Sometimes, stories are different because one person is not telling the truth. Sometimes, stories are different because two people have two different interpretations of the same story. And sometimes, stories are different because memory is not good, or there is an error in translation or retelling. It is only by carefully reading the original documents of those involved in the European conquest of the New World, and putting on our thinking caps, that we can tell fact from fiction.