I took my first Superior Placement course practically 4 years in the past in my freshman 12 months of highschool: AP World Historical past. All year long, I gained perception into 1000’s of years of human historical past, spanning from round 10,000 B.C.E. to 2000 C.E. The course, brimming with relevant content material, was one of the vital helpful courses I’ve taken in highschool.
Present AP World Historical past college students, nevertheless, now have interaction in a category fairly totally different from the one I took. The brand new curriculum, designed by a committee of school school and skilled AP educators, has been considerably altered. The course now begins with the 12 months 1200 C.E. By narrowing the course content material on this manner, these committees have severely diminished the course’s worth to college students. It isn’t the one AP course falling wanting its potential.
The School Board supported this World Historical past determination by claiming that the previous curriculum was a lot too broad to be coated in a single 12 months. Accordingly, they cut up the course right into a Pre-AP course, which offers with historical past up till 1200 C.E., and the official AP course, which incorporates post-1200 occasions and developments. The Pre-AP course, nevertheless, lacks a complete curriculum and doesn’t current the chance for college kids to earn school credit score upon completion. Since making this cut up, the School Board has confronted immense scrutiny. Many faculties don’t have the sources so as to add the Pre-AP course, nor have they got the funds to buy it. Thus, some educators are claiming that the change prevents many college students from learning an important portion of historical past.
The AP course, which is the only real world historical past class that many college students have the chance to take, now not examines the primary civilizations, beginnings of religions, classical empires or any giant interval of pre-colonial Africa, America (North or South) or Asia.
World Historical past is among the AP program’s hottest programs, taken by over 300,000 college students every year. Contemplating that so many college students take this class, its curriculum has an indeniable capability to have a big affect on the event of this era’s collective mind-set.
AP World Historical past was initially created, partly, as an try and counter the Eurocentrism of this system’s different historical past programs, United States Historical past and European Historical past. But, with these new modifications, some consider that the course turned conspicuously Eurocentric.
Not solely will these modifications restrict college students’ entry to a extra full understanding of human historical past, they’ll render them a lot much less culturally competent.
Many schooling stakeholders declare that Eurocentrism in AP curricula is a pervasive downside, not restricted to its World Historical past course. As a highschool senior who has taken a fair proportion of this system’s programs, most of the courses I’ve personally taken have the identical subject.
This 12 months, I’m taking AP Artwork Historical past. Compared to this system’s different programs, this one is comparatively obscure; solely 25,000 college students take the AP Artwork Historical past examination every year. As the category has progressed, I’ve seen that we’re studying primarily about European, particularly Christian, artwork. Although we now have seen a couple of items from cultures outdoors Europe and North America, the bulk (65 %, to be precise) of the course’s must-know items come from Western nations. Solely 35 %, or 87 of 250 works, come from different areas of the world.
Many critics argue that Eurocentrism in AP curricula is a pervasive downside.
As a biracial pupil of Asian and European descent, I really feel that solely half of my cultural id is being adequately mirrored within the course curriculum. Cognizant of the wonder and attract of Asian cultures, I really feel the course ought to spend extra time learning the development of Asian structure, for instance, relatively than repeatedly analyzing totally different depictions of Jesus Christ throughout historical past. In reality, the course curriculum solely consists of seven items from China, compared to 31 items from Italy. How can AP Artwork Historical past college students be taught to understand their culturally various friends — a core goal of the course — with out totally inspecting the artwork of different cultures?
Even non-history AP programs endure from this downside. AP English Literature, one other class I’m taking this 12 months, locations an incredible emphasis on white, European authors. Its checklist of “Consultant Authors” consists nearly solely of writers from predominately white nations. Equally, the traditional novels the course discusses are, once more, written nearly solely by white authors — Austen, Dickens and Twain, for instance.
This actuality not solely inhibits cultural competence, but in addition discourages college students of coloration like me who’re occupied with pursuing the sector of literature.
Admittedly, the course is meant to focus totally on the event of English literature. Nevertheless, English literature — particularly that of the previous few many years — encompasses the work of many artists of coloration who merely should not being acknowledged by the AP program.
The AP World Historical past curriculum shouldn’t begin at 1200 C.E. — it ought to return to its prehistory origins. The AP Artwork Historical past curriculum shouldn’t merely be a research of European artwork actions — it ought to focus on artwork tendencies from all elements of our globe. And the AP English Literature curriculum ought to take a look at the works of artists of coloration from non-Western nations in addition to European authors, relatively than severely underselling the previous.
Altering the curriculums of those programs shall be difficult and time-consuming, however will undeniably render nice advantages for all AP college students. Illustration actually issues, and within the twenty first century, higher-level programs reminiscent of these within the AP program ought to mirror that.
Hannah Cluroe is a senior at Arizona’s Hamilton Excessive College and a Scholar Voice Journalism fellow — a program that trains excessive schoolers throughout the nation to cowl academic points of their communities.
This story about Superior Placement curricula was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, impartial information group targeted on inequality and innovation in schooling. Join Hechinger’s publication.