World History A
Socratic Seminar Discussion Agenda
Questions of Fact: These are questions that ask you to recall particular details or events from the text. There is only one answer and it can be directly identified as to page and paragraph. 1. Describe the Arawaks.
2. How does Zinn describe Spain?
3. What, according to Zinn, were Columbus’s motivations for going on the first expedition? What was Columbus promised in terms of profits? 4. How does Zinn portray Columbus’s character? What are some examples? How do these examples of character compare to those you saw in the 1949 film, Christopher Columbus? 5. Where did the expedition first hit land? From there where did they travel and run aground? What occurred on this other island? 6. What liberties does Columbus take in his report to the Court in Madrid upon returning from his first voyage? How does his second expedition and journey expand? How is it financed? What are they looking for? 7. What atrocities occur between the Spaniards and the Arawaks? From whom do we have these accounts? 8. How does las Casas describe gender relations among the native people? 9. What factored into killing off the native people of Hispaniola? 10. What similar atrocities were replicated by Cortes and Pizarro? 11. What atrocities were replicated by the English against North American tribes?
Questions of Interpretation: These questions ask you to think carefully about what the author’s underlying motive for writing this particular text. These questions clearly have no single right answer and the text suggests several possibilities. There are several likely answers that could be possible and they are connected to specific language on a particular page(s) and paragraph(s). 1. Do you think Zinn’s description of Spain is significant to the type of history Zinn writes? How? 2. Why is Zinn critical of Samuel Eliot Morison’s account of Christopher Columbus? 3. In attempting to tell history from the Native American perspective, has Zinn presented a “noble savage” version of history? 4. How does one society justify or rationalize the use of force to conquer another society?
Questions of Evaluation: These questions ask you to connect aspects of the text with your life or contemporary society. 1. Should genocide be studied objectively? Can genocide be studied objectively? 2. Is Zinn correct when he states “the pretense is that there really is such a thing as ‘the United States,’ subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests”? 3. Does the record of human history validate the concept of progress?