The College Board’s recent decision to change the curriculum of AP World History to begin in the year 1450 demands that teachers, historians, and academia at large revisit what’s considered ‘important’ for students to study.
Why the change? “The current AP World History course and exam cover 10,000 years of history across all seven continents. No other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year,” College Board wrote in an online statement. “AP World History teachers have told us over the years that the scope of content is simply too broad, and that they often need to sacrifice depth to cover it all in a single year.”
College Board suggests to high schools that they break the course into sections that span over two years so that students may still be able to study early history in proper detail. However, Townhall.com points out that“… the cost of adding a second course will not be feasible for already-strapped-for-cash high schools, not to mention the fact that it’s unlikely students will opt in to a completely optional history class.”
40 percent of the people in TIME’s compiled list of the 200 most influential figures in history were born before the cutoff date 1450, likely to make only quick appearances in the new curriculum, if any.
Most of the founders of the world’s major religions would all be erased, including Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, among others. “Sacred Jewish religious figures from the Torah (or for Christians, the Old Testament) would be relegated to the optional, pre-AP course,” according to Townhall.com. These, along with the Roman Empire, Greek philosophers, and the Chinese dynasties are just a sampling of monumental historical topics that will all be removed from the syllabus come the 2019-2020 academic year.
Critics of the new curriculum highlight that covering history from 1450 on creates a westernized view of the world for students. “They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, president of the World History Association told New York Times. Many of the early South-American and African tribes would only be studied from the time point of after Western influence and conquest.
In fact, teachers were so outraged by the erasure of these cultural studies that they protested in Salt Lake City, Utah two weeks ago. “I have a lot of trust and respect for what they do,” Trevor Packer, senior vice president of Advanced Placement and instruction at College Board said of history teachers. “And so when I heard these concerns expressed so powerfully, I felt like we needed to pay attention.”However, a video of an intense exchange between Packer and a teacher at the 2018 AP World Open Forum can be found here. The teacher, Ms. Amanda DoAmaral, who taught AP World History in Oakland, CA, in the video states “you [College Board] cannot tell my black and brown students that their history is not going to be tested, and then assume that that’s not going to matter.”
Even students are speaking out against the new syllabus. A high school freshman who took the AP World History exam started a petition and has already gathered thousands of signatures urging College Board to revoke it’s decision.
Still, other teachers feel willing to compromise, as the span of the material challenges teachers to cover 10,000 years in a short amount of time.
The College Board will make its final decision regarding the AP World History Course and Exam in July.
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