I need help with coming up with discussion questions for John Smith: A Description of New England and Galileo's The First Confrontation.  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Smith: A Description of New England was written by Captain John Smith in about 1616. He describes his voyages, particularly along the coast of Massachusetts and Maine in 1614 and also a second, less successful voyage due to him being captured off the Azores and held by French pirates from whom he managed to escape.  His experience as a seaman is indisputable and his recognition that there was huge potential for the English to exploit the coastline and entrench themselves to secure advantage is documented.

Having left Virginia a few years earlier due to disputes with other stakeholders, Smith was sure that this coastline would present new opportunities for the English. He would provide the necessary experience and assist settlers to make the most of the fishing (Cod was especially prolific) and fur trades. He includes descriptions of the people, the climate and the soil conditions for the growing of crops and was sure that he could lead the English successfully in establishing themselves permanently. He recognizes that many will consider him "more bold than wise," 

Smith's A Description of New England is the first known record of the use of the term New England to represent the section he was exploring which was an area previously known as North Virginia. Due to his efforts which were considerable and which included being deceived and double-crossed by one "Master" seaman called "Hunt," Smith was eventually named as Admiral of New England, although, having left, he never actually returned. He is however, credited with having encouraged many to make the journey and establish themselves as he distributed many maps and accounts. 

Discussion questions could include references to the above information which summarizes the book and its purpose:

1)Briefly discuss the content of John Smith's book called John Smith: A Description of New England

Other possible questions could include references to New England and the extent of the area covered:

2) Discuss the trade in the area which, after John Smith's voyages, became known as New England (also briefly discussed above). 

Another potential question could perhaps discuss the various pitfalls and treachery with which he had to contend such as Master seaman Hunt or the difficulties securing a ship and a crew, damage to his ships, piracy attempts and the actual capture by French pirates:

3) John Smith managed to secure a crew to return to New England. Discuss the difficulties securing the funding and a reliable crew and the effects of damage to the ship.

4) Discuss the effect of John Smith's capture by French pirates and how it hampered his efforts.

Regarding Galileo's The First Confrontation, you could include questions about how this letter impacted the rest of his life and his struggles with the Church and his apparent heresy.

1)Galileo had a huge impact on the way we see the world. Discuss the impact his obvious superior tone, as revealed in the text, made others suspicious of his motives and, impacted the rest of his life. 

Another possible discussion question could be how different the Church's response may have been had he remained scientific in his response without trying to include his opinion on how to "save souls." 

2) It seems Galileo was a man way ahead of his time. Discuss the reasons why the Church were resistant to his ideals and his apparent attempt to usurp its authority with reference to the text.