Image from Akshaya Jayaprakash and Ivar Shih
AP European History, alternatively known as AP Euro, has been a staple history elective for sophomores at Washington High School for over 10 years. It offers a curriculum that, as its name suggests, focuses on the European subcontinent and its economic, cultural, and social changes as well as its interactions with the rest of the world. AP World History, dubbed AP World, teaches along the same lines, but instead focuses on a broader number of continents without giving priority to certain regions and cultures. As of 2023, the Fremont Unified School District has decided to switch to AP World History and has removed AP Euro as an elective option entirely.
While they made this decision because they wanted the district to have the same AP history elective options in every school, they also felt that teaching about a more diverse range of countries was essential. Oftentimes, the history classes offered in school mainly teach about US history and European history, leaving many students completely uneducated on cultures outside of these regions. In previous years, there were no AP history courses that contained material that wasn’t centered around European affairs. This could be damaging to students, since it is essential to be well read about other cultures, especially in an environment like the Bay Area, which is a melting pot of numerous cultures. Former AP Euro student Lilian Pamula agrees: “I enjoyed [AP Euro], but I don’t think it was very useful in my life. Apart from the main events, a lot of the topics covered were very obscure, and weren’t very relevant to stuff in my everyday life.” She commented that AP World could be more useful in the lives of her fellow students due to the diverse content it covers, which could connect with modern political and social issues all over the world. Additionally, AP World is more beneficial on college applications, and a higher percentage of colleges accept it for credit compared to AP Euro, as former AP Euro and current AP World teacher Mr. Perry informs us.
However, doubts can be raised about how beneficial AP World will be to students. This school year’s AP World exam will be on May 15, 2024 in the morning, which is the same time that AP French students take their exam. This means that if a student were to take AP World and AP French in the same year, they would have to choose which exam they want to take, and would be forced to omit one from their schedule. This problem is not seen with AP Euro, which is in the morning on May 10th and only collides with AP US History, a class that sophomores can’t take. Additionally, AP World could be more overwhelming than AP Euro ever was. “[AP world] jumps all over the world and it covers a broad amount of content,” Mr Perry explains. “I’ve taught regular world history, and AP World is much more intense compared to it.” Compared to AP Euro, which only covers European affairs, it could be more stressful for students to learn about multiple countries with the same depth, especially if it is the first time these students are taking an AP class.
AP World isn’t the first and only change to the district’s curriculum. By 2025, Washington plans to make Ethnic Studies a required class. In addition to this, the school may add courses that focus on non-European cultures, like AP African American Studies. These changes could mean a shift away from a Western focused education, and instead create a history curriculum at Washington that aims to talk about not just Western history, but the history of marginalized groups as well.
Viswatha Pamidipati is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Wisconsin, and moved to Fremont when she was 12. She is a first year reporter for The Hatchet who is interested in discussing topics revolving around the local community and social issues, as well as the environment. In her free time, she loves to draw, bake, read, cook, and spend time with her family. She hopes to go into a career in STEM.