BY KYLIE YEATMAN
After 16 years of offering AP World History as a cohesive global course centered on teaching the entire history of the Earth in only eight months, the College Board will be implementing a brand new course entitled AP World History: Modern in September 2019.
Focusing on history dated after the year 1250—a noted change from its proposed start date of 1450, which incited a controversy of its own due to the noticeable removal of African and Asian history from the curriculum—the College Board has elected to offer a preamble to the course, similarly titled “Pre-AP World History and Geography.”
While CHS will not be offering a Pre-AP course as a precursor to the traditional sophomore year AP World History class, the implementation of changes to freshman social studies courses in order to better prepare them for the course is heavily in discussions, as explained by AP U.S. History teacher and social studies chair Marc Stafford.
“Changes are in discussions or the current college-preparation geography and AP Human Geography courses offered [to freshman,]” Stafford explains. “If any class is going to see a major change, it’d be the non-AP freshman geography course.”
Casting doubt on whether incoming freshmen will have the forethought or motivation to dedicate two years of their high school education to taking one AP course—or even the desire to sacrifice a summer in order to enroll in Pre-AP—Carmel High’s current AP World’s teacher, Brent Silva, asserts that offering Pre-AP will be ineffective for giving students a pivotal understanding of certain historical concepts dating prior to 1250.
“If you’re going to a school that’s offering the AP Human Geography course, then naturally students are going to take that over a Pre-AP,” Silva remarks. “If you’re starting a class with the Age of Exploration [in 1450,] you’re going to be missing out on a lot of key information.”
Of course, AP World will not be the only course altered by this sudden shift in curriculum. Freshman social studies courses, encompassing everything from world geography to world government courses, too will reap the effects of this shift, not to the contentment of the department.
Reflecting on the aforementioned controversy over starting the course in 1450, the College Board released a statement expressing their intent to include 200 prior years into the curriculum: “This change will ensure teachers and students can begin the course with a study of the civilizations in Africa, the Americas, and Asia that are foundational to the modern era,” reads the statement, additionally reporting on the board’s intent to make the class less dense and therefore easier on students.
“A similar cut was made previously to the AP U.S. History curriculum,” reflects Stafford. “A lot less focus is placed on Native American cultures in the current curriculum. You might see at most one question about those cultures on the exam for the class.”
“The sharing of cultures … how ideas made it across the Silk Road [one of the first major trade routes in world history] are an important focus in the curriculum,” Silva remarks. “It siphons everything down to a few select regions that are deemed as being more important, and the rest end up being left out.”
Reflecting on a personal experience in training to teach the AP Government and Politics course, Silva explains that a lack of resources has become a consistent problem for the College Board.
“They told us about the changes, but the resources provided were very limited,” Silva says. “I’d imagine we will get more of the same thing in this case.”