Image of Candace Bolles shown above.
Of the many classes M-A changed or added this year, the addition of AP World History and removal of AP European History has been highly anticipated. This impacts many students, as history is the one of the few AP classes offered to all sophomores. Although there are concerns about the pacing, work load, and curriculum surrounding the new course, students and teachers alike are excited about the World History option.
There are two AP World teachers this year: Candace Bolles and Austin Hunt.
Candace Bolles has been teaching at M-A for 11 years, and this is also her third year as the History Department Chair. According to Bolles, “There has been a movement District wide to decolonize the history curriculum.” The first step in this movement was the Ethnic Studies history course for freshmen. She said, “We started talking about the change two years ago, as we were talking about Ethnic Studies as a course. It was decided that Ethnic Studies would be the priority, and then we would work on the 10th grade course.”
Bolles also said that because of the switch from World Studies to Ethnic Studies for freshmen, M-A needed to fulfill the geography and world history requirement that only World Studies met, which the school chose to do by replacing AP Euro with AP World.
The main difference between these two sophomore history courses is that AP World covers every major continent and teaches a much more expansive time period. While the AP Euro curriculum starts in 1450 CE, World begins in 1200 CE. Bolles said, “In a normal college prep World History course, you might spend a week to two weeks on World War I, but we do it in a day.” She added, “We’ve never done this course before. It’s a lot of material, so it’s going to be an interesting experiment of how fast we have to go.”
Although some students may be comfortable with learning about World War I in one class period, others are not too keen on the idea. Sophomore Antonia Mille said, “History has always been something that I’ve appreciated; all the books I’ve enjoyed have been historical fiction. I wanted to challenge myself with the AP course. However, I was initially disappointed about the switch because I was really excited to learn more in depth about Europe.”
On the other hand, Bolles claimed that students have been very receptive to the class because they feel it speaks to everyone and they can see themselves in the curriculum. Moreover, Bolles said that “this year there are more students enrolled in AP World than there have been in AP Euro. The maximum number of sections for AP Euro has consistently been four, based on the number of students who want to take it. But this year, we have six for AP World.”
The increased AP history enrollment could have multiple causes, but because sign-ups for the AS English II course offered in 10th grade has stayed constant, there is reason to believe that there are more total students enrolled in advanced humanities classes, which is likely because of the new AP history curriculum.
Bolles added, “I think students should know that they’ll be expected to do a lot of reading and learning at home, just because it’s not physically possible in the class time to cover every single thing that happened in every country on every continent. We are trying to get this global perspective, so we can’t go in depth for everything, which means there’s a lot that’s left for the student to do on their own.”
Sophomore Claire Gong said, “The notes are the most challenging because you really have to understand everything you’re reading.” Especially since any course content can show up on the AP test, it’s important for students to do a lot of learning on their own.
In general, Bolles believes that a student interested in taking this course should really enjoy history. “If you truly do like history, and you’re interested in learning not only about the history of the United States and Europe, but you also want to learn about other regions of the world, that is the person we’re interested in being in this class. Those who are willing to put in extra effort to study the things that we’re not going to cover in class, because they’re interested in it.” She worries, as many teachers do, that students will take this course just because it’s the only AP offered sophomore year.
When asked about her decision to take AP World History, sophomore Sophie Chi said, “I chose the course because it’s the only AP I can take.”
Nonetheless, Bolles is “really looking forward to it. I taught seniors for ten years, and they needed somebody to take on AP World, so I stepped up. I am trying to take my love of history and instill it into my curriculum so that hopefully my students will also develop that love of history.”