Are high school students really getting the most out of their education? Are they really learning what they need to learn in their classes? Well it appears this is not the case in their history and social science courses. There appears to be absolutely no mention of the history of the Americas and their inhabitants in these classes prior to 1492. This is a huge mistake, since there are many events and important accomplishments that occurred during this time, and they are pivotal to the education of these students. Just like other eras of time are talked about such as medieval Europe, life in American pre 1492, before the arrival of Columbus, also needs to be talked about since it’s just as important. There are various reasons as to why this needs to be taught, and what are the things that should be taught. Some of these events and accomplishments that need to be talked about: when and how exactly did people arrive in the Americas, what was the population before 1492, what great agricultural and architectural wonders did they create, how advanced were these people. These are the main points that should be taught to these high school students.
One of the keys things that would need to be covered so that students can understand this pre 1492 time in the America’s would be the dates when people arrived in the Americas. When exactly did people get here? Well according to Mann, “Native Americans came across the Bering Strait 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, and they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation the continents remain mostly wilderness” (Mann, 1491, 18). This is when most experts agree that people arrived in the Americas, even though there are some that disagree with this. It is important for students to be able to know this, to know when Native Americans arrived in what today is the United States. This would certainly raise questions such as whether they were immigrants, and how exactly did they manage to cross over. This would lead to great discussion questions that would challenge the students such as whether the Europeans were really intruders when they arrived in the Americas when they were immigrants just like the Native Americans. How they managed to cross the Bering Strait, between what is today Russia and Alaska, would also be covered. Naturally, questions as to how they crossed when both landmasses are separated by the sea. So this would be covered by explaining how in the last ice age, the sea levels were much lower allowing the people to cross over into the Americas. So by teaching the students about this, they would also learn about pre-historic times as well, consequently their knowledge about other important events in history that helped shaped today’s world. However, there are other theories as to how people arrived in the Americas and these would also be discussed in the class. Some of these theories are that people crossed into the Americas by sea, in what is known as island hopping, people sailing from one island to another, across the Pacific Ocean. All of this would be taught all with the ultimate goal of students understanding how and when these people came, but there are more things that will also be taught.
How many people where in the Americas pre 1492? That question might not have a definite answer but there are currently to types of archeologist debating exactly how many people were here. These two groups are divided into the low counters, the ones who think there were not that many people here, and high counters, which in turn believed there were more people here than even in Europe. Low counters believed there was on average about 10 to 15 million people here, the high counters however believe there were as many as 100 million people here in the Americas (Mann, 1491, page 150). Both of these two claims would be taken into account and taught to the students. This would allow for some interesting questions to be asked to them, to see