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Teaching about Juan Ponce de León, First Governor of Puerto Rico

Juan Ponce de León was born in Spain in 1460. He traveled to the New World with Christopher Columbus and was appointed Governor of Hispaniola. He heard tales of an island called Borinquen with plentiful stores of gold, and in 1508 he was given permission to explore Puerto Rico by King Ferdinand. He was named governor of the island around 1509.

Around 1513, that position was taken over by Diego, one in all the sons of Christopher Columbus, and Ponce de Leon set out to go looking for one more fabled island, which the King of Spain offered to him as a substitute of Puerto Rico. This one, Bimini, was said to have a fountain of magical waters that conferred youth on those that drank from it. Ponce de Leon landed in Florida, where he was killed by a member of the Calusa tribe in 1521. His stays were taken to Puerto Rico, where they still lie.

True or false?

Ponce de Leon is best often called the explorer who looked for the Fountain of Youth. The story says that he heard a Taino legend about an island called Bimini where there was a magical fountain that gave everlasting youth to everyone who drank its water and even bathed in it. But Ponce de Leon never wrote about this fountain or asked the Spanish crown to fund a seek for it.

In 1535, 14 years after the death of Ponce de Leon, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés was the primary to write down concerning the supposed seek for the Fountain of Youth. Oviedo was a very important Spanish historian — but he was also known to write down celebrity gossip, and contemporaries accused him of constructing things up. On the very least, he didn’t have the devotion to factual information that modern readers expect in works on history.

One other source of the story of Ponce de Leon’s seek for the Fountain of Youth was a member of the Columbus family, who wrote 35 years after Ponce de Leon’s death. There was rivalry between Ponce de Leon and Christopher Columbus, as seen within the undeniable fact that Ponce de Leon had to present up the governorship of Puerto Rico to one in all Colombus’s sons.

So did Juan Ponce de León lose his life in a failed effort to seek out the mythical magic fountain, or not? Use this query to work along with your class on critical considering and digital literacy.

Lesson Part I: The Facts

Have students read background information on Ponce de Leon and the article on The Myth of Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth at History.com. Go over the texts together to the extent needed to make sure understanding. In case your students are capable of accomplish that, have them do some online research to seek out other sources and help them resolve which sources are trustworthy.

Then arrange two whiteboards, sheets of chart paper, or sections in your classroom projector, one for evidence suggesting that Ponce de León looked for the Fountain of Youth, and one for evidence that he didn’t.

Remind students that evidence must be composed of facts. Conform to include expert opinions but not feelings. The History.com article features a quote from Dr. J. Michael Francis, a professor of history in Florida who makes a speciality of Florida Studies. Discuss why that quote may very well be considered evidence, while, “Everybody says Ponce de Leon was trying to find the Fountain of Youth” wouldn’t.

Other evidence that Ponce de Leon wasn’t trying to find the Fountain of Youth might include these points:

  • He never wrote that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth.
  • Writers from his own time never said he was searching for the Fountain of Youth; that claim didn’t come up until long after his death.
  • There are reasons to mistrust the writers who made that claim.
  • Slightly than going to Bimini, which was the supposed location of the Fountain of Youth, he went to Florida.
  • He died on the age of 47, perhaps too young to be very focused on a Fountain of Youth.

Facts showing that Ponce de Leon was trying to find the Fountain of Youth might include the next:

  • There apparently were stories a couple of Fountain of Youth on Bimini, and Ponce de Leon intended to explore Bimini.
  • It isn’t known why or how he ended up in Florida; it may not have been a selection to not go to Bimini.
  • A reputedly health-giving stream was present in Florida, which is now the house of the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
  • European explorers within the 1500s found many remarkable things that will need to have been surprising.
  • Not all letters and contracts from the sixteenth century are still in existence now; there might need been correspondence concerning the Fountain of Youth that not exists.

Lesson Part 2: The Debate

Divide the category into two teams, one for both sides of the query. Hold a debate in accordance with your school’s customary rules for debates, or use the suggestions below:

  1. Each team can have a set period of time to present their arguments and counter-arguments.
  2. Assign a timekeeper to maintain track of the speaking time.
  3. Students must use appropriate language and respect their opponents’ views in the course of the debate.
  4. Encourage students to make use of facts and evidence to support their arguments.
  5. Allow time for questions and rebuttals.

Consider presenting the talk for one more class and allowing the opposite class to guage which side is more persuasive.

Lesson Part 3: An Essay

Following the talk, have students write an essay answering the query,  “Was Juan Ponce de León trying to find the Fountain of Youth?” Remind students that they need to present evidence for his or her opinion, and have them cite their sources in accordance with your school’s system for documenting sources.

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