Dear Mr. Packer and the College Board,

 

We write in response to your request to hear from teachers about the proposed changes to the AP World History curriculum and examination; specifically the intention to eliminate all materials relating to world history before 1450 CE. The Midwest World History Association (MWWHA) considers this decision as both unfortunate and ill-conceived.  It short-circuits one of the major rationales for the study of world history, which is to prepare students for twenty-first-century citizenship. Moreover, cutting pre-modern world history assures their ignorance of many of the foundations of today's traditions, institutions and issues.

Cutting pre-modern world history jeopardizes a student’s understanding of such phenomena as the origins and convoluted historical developments of the world's three Abrahamic religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moreover, without understanding Confucianism and Legalism, students will lack the cultural context for grasping the world view of the leaders of the People's Republic of China and remain ignorant of China’s deep history of dominance in East and Central Asia. Ignorance of the several thousands of years of North and South American Indigenous peoples and sub-Saharan African cultures and civilizations remains assured by beginning their stories only around 1450 CE. The Board’s truncation strips world historical context so that the world appears as if somehow suddenly formed out of the whole cloth of Eurocentric manufacture wrought by modernity. Indeed, this would only reinforce the view that various parts of the world lack history until contact with modern Europeans.  

 

Our organization spans the Midwest and its members are teaching in large, diverse cities and small, mostly white college towns. We teach AP, as well as college-level introductory World History courses. We are emphatically not Ivory Tower intellectuals seeking to tell K-12 teachers "how to do it properly;" indeed our most popular conference sessions are about sharing teaching ideas and learning how to better connect the high school and college experiences. There is no doubt that teaching and learning World History is not easy, but grappling with the subject in its fullest sense allows us to engage our students of color in a story they have yet to hear and to challenge the story our white students have always been told.

The MWWHA  asks that the College Board reverse its decision to delete thousands of years of world history, an act that effectively preserves the erroneous conception that “real” history begins only with the rise of European hegemony. We echo the arguments of others in insisting that the framework of AP world, capturing the contributions of human beings from all areas of the globe, must be maintained. At the same time, we recognize that the breadth of the material does not allow for depth in teaching.  Therefore, it is the suggestion of the MWWHA that the College Board consider a general paring down of Key Concepts throughout the course, instead of wholesale elimination of the Key Concepts before 1450 CE. Such a move would also be consistent with recent attempts to restructure introductory college history courses around the concept of “uncoverage” emphasizing historical thinking rather than vast amounts of material. We thank you for inviting response to the proposed changes in APWH and look forward to working with our colleagues across the country to ensure world history teaching maintains its inclusive, diverse, and innovative role in our classrooms.

 

Sincerely,

 

Midwest World History Officers

 

Louisa Rice, President

Associate Professor

University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

 

Paul Jentz, Paul Jentz, Vice-President

Professor

North Hennepin Community College, MN

 

Tom Barker, Ph.D., Treasurer

7th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Billy Mills Middle School, KS

 

Justin Quinn Olmstead, Secretary

Assistant Professor

University of Central Oklahoma

 

Midwest World History Executive Committee Members

 

Andrae Marak

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

& Graduate Studies

Governors State University, IL

 

Krista Grensavitch

Doctoral Candidate, History

Associate Lecturer, History and Women’s and Gender Studies

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 

Susan E. Smith,

Maple Grove High School, Maple Grove, MN

 

Eileen Orzoff-Baranyk

AP World History Teacher

Vernon Hills High School, IL

 

Mark Soderstrom,

Associate Professor and Chair of History,

Aurora University, IL

 

Steven A. Glazer

Professor of History

Graceland University, IA

 

Nat Godley

Assistant Professor of History

Alverno College, WI

 

Kathleen Duffy, Barrington High School, IL  

Social Studies Teacher (including AP World History)

Barrington High School, IL  

 

James N. Tallon

Associate Profesor of History,

Lewis University, IL