Sunday, October 26, 2008

AP World History Has Taken Over Our Lives

I have a  pragmatic appreciation of the correlation between effort and achievement. Increasingly complex and demanding homework through the high school years, then through college has always made perfect sense.  Advanced learning, whether academic, work-related, or craft, has always begun with a sense of climbing up a mountain, culminating in exhilaration at the summit.

Until my son took AP World History.

This isn't just his class. It's our entire family's commitment. Because poor A is chained to his homework load seven days a week, up to 4 hours a day. We can't travel on weekends. We can't enjoy a spontaneous diversion during the week.  There can be no must-see television or movies. We don't dare linger at church, and Youth Group is hit-or-miss, depending on how productive he's been during the afternoon. Scouts? Maybe he can join the Troop for the business portion of the meeting, but forget the fun stuff.  

There are charts to complete, vast sums of pages to read and outline, study guides to review, and unit tests to prepare for long in advance. This year-long course, once daily, is now every-other-day, shared with World Literature. So the students have half the time in class and double the homework to make up for it. Of course, there are also four other classes in his block to cover: World Literature, Algebra II, Latin II, and Nutrition. So that homework has to get squeezed in there somehow.

Bedtime is usually midnight and he has to be up again by 6:15 to get ready for the next school day.  

For A, knowing that AP World History is modeled after college classes is somewhat off-putting. "Mom, I don't think I can do college. This is just ONE class." 

It's hard to know the answers he needs and keep my lips zipped. I'll hear him muttering about Confucious and his motivation or Byzantine migration routes and have to will him to find the right answer. Eventually he does, but it's painfully slow.

Sigh.  Just eight months until the AP World History exam.


  1. And it is the dullest history course I have ever encountered -- by design!

    First sentence from your AP World History link: "The purpose of the AP World History course is to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts, in interaction with different types of human societies."

    If that sentence does not put you in mind of a sweeping story of the world's events and developments, you are right -- story and narrative won't be found.

    I remember flipping open my boy's AP World History book years ago, seeing the sections on the subcontinent and thinking, I don't know much about the history of that part of the world, let me dip in to this book and learn something...Ptui! It was history scrubbed clean of names, dates, places, wars, discoveries -- history without the story.

    Please don't let your son read my comments, as he still has to plug on and finish the course. Mine did, but he did not enjoy it or show any further desire to study history.

    I advised younger daughter not to sign up for this course, as I feared it would put off any interest in history for her in the future.

    "the evolution of global processes and contacts" ! I am feeling the pain of A and your family...

    All the best, Steve

  2. Kindred spirits!

    My least favorite courses in college were first-semester World Literature and World History (my high school had NO AP Courses, so I was starting from scratch). DISAPPOINTED!

    I concur. I read the first four chapters and it all came back to me. But that's more due to the intervening years of reading, following the news, engaging in the election process, and studying PERIODS that interested me.

    Poor students. What a failure this "introduction" is!

  3. I'm terrified. My daughter is only in second grade and your reality is what I have to look forward to? Yikes.

  4. The good news for younger kids is that we're fighting like crazy to work out the kinks at DHS. My poor son has been the poster child for experimental and transitional situations. He was in middle school during three years of construction (hello, chaos, grime, and trailers), has bolted his lunch and jostling halls thanks to overcrowding and poor support by the school system, and now this goofy modified block that submarined teachers and students alike. But the good news is that he's swimming out of the riptide - and things will be better by the time my current 6th grader gets to DHS!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it's great to hear from you!