Changes Coming To AP World History Classes
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Some high-school students are going to learn a little less about world history in coming school years. The College Board has announced that the Advanced Placement world history course will no longer cover pre-colonial civilizations and start from the year 1450 from the arrival of Europeans. But many high school history teachers across the country oppose that change. One of those teachers, Amanda DoAmaral, who taught the course for five years at a high school in Oakland, Calif., spoke out at a forum in Salt Lake City.
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AMANDA DOAMARAL: You 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.
SIMON: Amanda DoAmaral joins us now from the studios of KUER in Salt Lake City. Thanks so much for being with us.
DOAMARAL: Thank you so much.
SIMON: What are your concerns about the effect of this decision?
DOAMARAL: So as an AP world history teacher, I know that, with the way that the exam has been, students have had the opportunity to really dive into content in their deep past - right? - and look at things all around the world and draw comparisons through them. And with this change, those things will no longer be assessed. And we're really just cutting down history to about less than 600 years.
SIMON: Doesn't a good teacher like yourself already have to leave out a lot if you're dealing with 10,000 years of history?
DOAMARAL: Yeah. I mean, teaching history is a lot about making choices based on what you're teaching and what lens you're teaching it through. But I think what College Board will need to focus on is to really train teachers in how to teach students how to ask big questions and how to, you know, organize the material and thematically so that we can understand the context of the world that we live in today because it's complicated. And it includes all people. And we can't just look at it from what's happened in the last 600 years.
SIMON: What about schools that might say, look - we can offer courses in history that is essentially pre-Columbian? Let's say year 0 to 1450 - and offer the AP course from 1450 to current day.
DOAMARAL: So, I mean, I think there's value in learning world history over more than one year for sure. My issue right now is the exam itself is only going to cover 1450 to the present. And so whatever you're teaching, students are going to ask, is it going to be on the test? And if it's not, they tune out.
SIMON: What should we know about that some history courses don't emphasize enough?
DOAMARAL: One thing is just, like - I think about Africa. When especially black students learn about African history, a lot of times, it just starts at slavery. And something that I got a chance to really learn about in teaching AP world is, you know, the Mali Empire and the riches of the West African nations and even, like, someone like Mansa Musa, who's the richest person to ever live. And he was an African king. And that's not something that many students know or many people know. So I think that's just something really cool for students to know and understand that, like, those riches were part of their history. Those achievements were part of that.
SIMON: Amanda DoAmaral, thanks so much for being with us.
DOAMARAL: Thank you so much.
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