BOX 4-1
Accounts of Columbian Voyages

  1. “Columbus was one of the comparatively few people who at that time believed the earth to be round. The general belief was that it was flat, and that if one should sail too far west on the ocean, he would come to the edge of the world, and fall off.”

    SOURCE: Eggleston (1904, p. 12).

  2. “‘But, if the world is round,’ said Columbus, ‘it is not hell that lies beyond the stormy sea. Over there must lie the eastern strand of Asia, the Cathay of Marco Polo, the land of the Kubla Khan, and Cipango, the great island beyond it.’ ‘Nonsense!’ said the neighbors; ‘the world isn’t round—can’t you see it is flat? And Cosmas Indicopleustes [a famous geographer] who lived hundreds of years before you were born, says it is flat; and he got it from the Bible. . . ’”

    SOURCE: Russell (1997, pp. 5-6).

  3. “Columbus met with members of the Clergy and Spanish elite at Salamanca, who told him: ‘You think the earth is round, and inhabited on the other side? Are you not aware that the holy fathers of the church have condemned this belief?… Will you contradict the fathers? The Holy Scriptures, too, tell us expressly that the heavens are spread out like a tent, and how can that be true if the earth is not flat like the ground the tent stands on? This theory of yours looks heretical.’”

    SOURCE: Russell (1997, pp. 5-6).

  4. “Many a bold navigator, who was quite ready to brave pirates and tempests, trembled at the thought of tumbling with his ship into one of the openings into hell which a widespread belief placed in the Atlantic at some unknown distance from Europe. This terror among sailors was one of the main obstacles in the great voyage of Columbus.”

    SOURCE: White (1896, p. 97).

Two critical features of teaching history are displayed here. The first involves probing students’ thinking about the historical problem they are studying and making their thinking visible for all to see. History education entails helping students learn to think historically. Students’ thinking resides at the instructional center; therefore, teachers must regularly take stock of it



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