Into the depths of AP History we go...Section I: Historical Thinking Skills

Ok, now that we have examined the opening arguments from both sides, it's time to do an independent Grouchy Historian audit of this new AP History plan.

S0 the plan itself is well laid out and there are lots of resources on the website.  I did not evaluate all of them, but may do so later.

The AP program itself is broken into three parts, which will all be examined in turn.

The first section, outlined below is actually very well done.  The process and methodology of examining history is well laid out in a logical fashion and seems to encourage critical thinking and evaluation.

One interesting note is that when discussing historical evidence, the program seems to skip over even a rudimentary discussion of the difference, strengths and weaknesses of primary versus secondary sources.  

Perhaps it is further discussed in the teacher materials, but this seems to me to be a pretty basic topic for students to understand.  Certainly in my college courses, which of course the AP classes are supposed to be modeled on, these two basic types of sources were discussed in some detail.

I also liked the proficiency boxes listed in this section that outlined learning outcomes for students.  These were straightforward, challenging, but left a fair amount of interpretation for the instructor.

I particularly liked the section of interpretation and synthesis.  My personal basic steps of historical analysis-regurgitation, interpretation, and synthesis are very difficult to master and exposing students to them early will be extremely helpful.

I especially thought the synthesis objectives were very well done:

Proficient students should be able to ...
  • Combine disparate, sometimes contradictory evidence from primary sources and secondary works in order to create a persuasive understanding of the past.
  • Apply insights about the past to other historical contexts or circumstances, including the present. 

If a student can master this skill, they will do very well at whatever degree they choose to pursue in college.

One of the life long skills I learned as a history major was the ability to ingest a large amount of often contradictory and incomplete information, sift and sort it in a logical manner, then synthesize it into a defensible conclusion.  This skill has served me well for my military, business, and academic pursuits and I am heartened to see it incorporated into the AP History course.

So, in conclusion, the process and methodology are pretty solid from my analysis.  

HOWEVER, as always, the ever present "Thematic Objectives" will rear their ugly heads and mess everything up with the inevitable introduction of the "SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR!"

More on that next.....