In fourth grade, Sister taught us that Christopher Columbus discovered America. She said settlers to the new land sought freedom from oppression. They faced many difficulties, including the danger of being attacked by the “savages” who roamed the land.
I raised my hand and asked how someone else’s home could be “discovered” or be “new”. I wanted to know why she considered the native people “savages” for fighting keep what was theirs.
Reprimanded for my silly, disruptive, waste of time questions, I was banished to the hall. The experience was deeply humiliating, yet empowering. Sister’s refusal to acknowledge my questions forced me to look elsewhere to validate what sounded like injustice to my ears. I learned that day to satisfy my own mind.
Today, my fundamental reason for teaching is to empower my students to seek truth. We look for meaning between the lines of stories. I encourage them to go beyond text and lecture, to visualize situations from several perspectives. We discuss the reasons why there may be more than one right answer to a question. I challenge them to not settle for textbook, media, or even my version of events, but to seek their own truth in all things.