Tag Archive | history

Christopher Columbus … who knew?

In a past post I mentioned that I had relocated an old history book, copyright 1885, on my book shelf. Since today we celebrate Christopher Columbus Day, I thought it fitting to see if there was anything of interest in this timeworn volume about this renowned explorer.

According to Barnes Historical Stories, Columbus entered the world in 1435, the first of four children and the son of a poor wool-comber.  He assumed responsibility to contribute to the family to educate his young brothers and support his aged father from the savings of his meager wages. Did you know that his hair was totally white by age 30? Supposedly due to trouble and anxiety, it makes you wonder why it is included in this history text. Can you imagine today’s kids even caring about the color of his hair let alone what might have caused it?

Yet Columbus had a dream that was 18 years in the making. Determined, shrewd and intensely religious, Columbus believed his mission came from the Lord to carry the true faith to the uttermost parts of the earth. He deemed this cause his purpose and pursued it with courage and devotion.

You would think that with the acclaim Ferdinand and Isabella received from sponsoring Columbus’ travels, they would have treated him exceptionally well. Evidently that is not the case. Columbus made four voyages for the Spanish royals, yet evil men slandered Columbus, and they disregarded their promise to him that he should become governor-general over the lands he had discovered. Instead, they appointed another governor, who promptly returned Columbus to Spain in chains. Spain’s general population was outraged, and Ferdinand and Isabella tried to ease the wrong done to Columbus although they never permitted him to be governor. Eventually they neglected him altogether. Columbus died a grieved and disappointed man and requested that he be buried with his chains, a symbol of the Spanish ingratitude.

Here we are 506 years after his death celebrating his discovery with a holiday, yet in this age of global travel and communications, few of us even think about the cost of his investment let alone the man himself. So, take a minute today, just for fun, and quiz your family and friends to see if they can remember any details of Columbus or his voyage to discover a new world. He changed history. As you share what you have learned about him, it might become a conversation starter leading to discoveries of your own about their dreams, goals and purpose in life. Hmmm, Christopher Columbus. Who knows? He might still impact lives to encourage a new world.

What happens when the power goes off?

I’ll deal with the first thoughtful responses to the title question up front.

Although we can join the debate about whether the population spikes 9 months following a major power outage or whether the number of births is well within the norm, that’s not really where I’m headed with this one. I’m talking about the power that runs today’s technological devices we so depend on. What happens when those resources are not available? Here’s why I ask.

During a power outage, I went into a local store hoping to make a purchase. Unfortunately, the clerk did not know how to compute the change needed from the cash tendered without the aid of the cash register. Counting on her fingers, she struggled several times, but I finally had to tell her. She could not get it right.  It was not a matter of being inconvenient to perform calculations by hand. The root problem stemmed from the fact that she had not learned the skill.

Recently, I tutored an extremely bright twenty-something’s man preparing for an entrance exam. He had no problem solving quadratic equations and understood higher math concepts, so why did he need to find a coach? He had never learned how to do long division. He was unable to solve these problems without a calculator, and the rules did not permit using one during the test. None of his elementary teachers had taught him this skill.

There are more benefits gained from using the left side of the brain than mere academic exercises.  Learning math facts like the multiplication tables and grasping other concepts prepare you to think clearly to make other decisions and analyze situations. It also keeps the brain agile and sharp during the senior years. Certainly using technology makes the job easier, but if it’s not available, could you go it alone?

But here’s the more important question. Do you know what the local schools are teaching – or not teaching? Perhaps you should check it out, and don’t stop with just math. You might want to investigate other subjects like history and writing. This would be good to find out before we’re all left in the dark.