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Monuments: Whose Story Do They Tell, and Are These Stories “Set in Stone”?

A Case Study of Hernan Cortes and a Critical Analysis of Our Community’s Own Monuments
 
Case Study at a Glance
In this case study, students will critically analyze primary and secondary resources and conduct research to formulate arguments about how monuments that commemorate painful periods of human history should be treated. 
Author
Christine Chernikoff
School
Beverly J. Martin
Level
5th Grade
Guiding Questions
Where do we see monuments both in our local community and in the wider world?
What is the purpose of these monuments?
How has the legacy of Hernan Cortes been memorialized through texts (both written and visual), artwork, and other physical monuments?
How does the authorship of these texts shape our consumption of them? Whose story does each commemoration of Cortes tell?
How do we as a society grapple with monuments to painful periods in history? How should these monuments be treated?
ICSD Anti-Marginalization Focus Questions
Is this just?
How does history and present day society look at power?
How do we understand stories of resistance and change movements? How can I use my voice?
How do individuals and groups interact and make change in their communities?
Student Products
Five-paragraph essay in which students describe and evaluate various perspectives on Cortes throughout history; develop their own perspective on Cortes; and formulate an argument for how modern monuments to Cortes should be handled and why.
Letter to Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Committee making suggestions about the treatment of our community’s own monuments of injustice grounded in the students’ study of Mexico and Spain’s treatment of monuments of Hernan Cortes.