The Scope of Revolutions

While I love the broad brush that AP World History paints of the last 10,000 years, it is beginning to be extremely limiting. In my college prep class, I spend about six weeks talking about the origins of democratic thought, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the wars for independence in Latin America. Even that amount of time isn’t enough.

In AP World History, I am facing covering all of those topics, plus the rise of nationalism, the unification of Italy and Germany, and several smaller themes related to revolutionary ideas – all in a week. Obviously it can’t be done. I will touch upon the Enlightenment, do a short simulation on the writing of the Declaration of Independence, and then do a comparison on the Legacy of the French and American Revolutions. My students will have to learn the rest from the textbook. Good luck.

3 thoughts on “The Scope of Revolutions”

  1. I also thought at first that AP World History, as a class including more than just European history, would be a good idea. However, after more serious thought, I have come to the conclusion that the scope of this class is too large. Most students in this have to cover 10,000 years of human history, across the globe, in 9 months. Naturally, any in-depth studies become extrememly difficult, as a study on any particular topic takes away time needed to study something else in order to learn all the material for the AP exam.
    I have little disagreement with those who say that history classes in America are generally too Eurocentric, but I have found that having a class on the entire history of the entire world leads to little in-depth study.
    I have heard that some schools in Masachussetts, for example, offer AP-level courses in topics such as Middle Eastern history, which I believe sounds like a good alternative to the very broad topic of World History without being overly Eurocentric. Perhaps this should be considered?

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  2. We face the same dilemma in APUSH. You would think it would be easier to cover the history of one country for 400 or so years, but no. The level of detail that is required is prohibitive. They say that they want to maintain the rigor of a college level survey class, but we didn’t go into this much detail when I was in college, and I went to a good school.

    Then there’s the fact that the kids who take Euro and World are taught how to do DBQs one way, while it’s different in APUSH. I spend all year saying, “Now, you MUST bring in outside information– don’t just rely on the documents!!” and telling them that the grouping thing is not that important.

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