How should we celebrate October 12th?


To mark October 12th, IB and IGCSE Spanish classes - and our Spanish Club - talked about the day when Christopher Columbus landed in America as the encounter of two worlds. My students and I turned this controversial day into a Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, watching videos and using it to spark debates.

Students from Years 7 to 13 also learnt how to prepare the 'mate' and tasted 'alfajores', both typical products from Latin America.

Have a look at our key questions from the day and think about how you would answer them.

1. What do we celebrate on October 12th?

It was the day when Cristopher Columbus landed in America in the far 1492.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzu2HC7hxk0 (2.24')

There is no doubt it was a crucial event in History, which helped shaping the world as we know it today. However, it is very controversial due to the effects that the European colonisation had on native people.

It therefore raises questions that are worth discussing with students to stimulate open-mindedness, thinking and inquiry skills.

What is the official name of this event?

It is celebrated in the Americas and in Spain as a holiday. We will hear different names for this day according to the perspective from which we look at it: Hispanic Heritage day, National day of Spain, Discovery of America, Columbus Day in the conqueror's perspective or Indigenous People's day, Race day in the local population's perspective. There is a third perspective that commemorates a new cultural identity born on the encounter and fusion of the indigenous people and the European conquerors.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/historical-figures/christopher-columbus/ (2.40')

Debate questions:

Q: Would you say there is a right/wrong name or perspective? Why?

(ie. the Discovery of America... Was not America already there and inhabited by indigenous people?)

Q: How is this related to power?

Q: How is this event still relevant today?

Q: Could we say globalisation started then?

Q: What did Europeans bring to and take from indigenous people? Was it a win-win situation?

- Ms. Lain
Deputy Head of Senior School
Teacher of Spanish