How Not To Teach An AP US History Class

How Not To Teach An AP US History Class


It has recently come to my attention that some people are fantastically unaware of how not to teach an AP United States History class for high schoolers. Believe it or not, there are teachers who still think that the best way to teach this type of class is through copious amounts of note-taking and memorization of asinine facts. Well, I'm here to help. Through my simple, easy-to-follow guide, you'll learn the basics in improper teaching and how to avoid it. So read on, gentle readers. You violent readers may prefer something else, though.





Ok, I'm glad to see you're still here. Let's get started, shall we?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump followed my advice, and now look at him. There's a successful man.

Tip #1: Do not, under any circumstances, use a textbook.

Using a textbook is just asking for trouble. Kids become ornery when they have to read, and most textbooks on the subject tend to be full of dry facts about United States history, with many obscure and meaningless terms and facts such as "laissez faire", "Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo", and "War of Independence". It's best to steer clear of these. Students don't learn from reading, anyway.


Tip #2: Do not use the text American History: A Survey by Alan Brinkley.

If you feel that you have to use a textbook, don't use this one. There are far too many chapters and words in this text. There are few pictures and the print is small. And the author of the text is biased. He feels that only two women existed in the entirety of recorded history: Jane Addams and Eleanor Roosevelt. Seriously, look! Jane Addams gets more mentions on average than Franklin D. Roosevelt! All she did was found some charity thing in Chicago! And don't get me started about Eleanor "I'm gonna marry my cousin" Roosevelt.


Tip #3: Do not teach American History: A Survey to Catholic students.

If you try to teach this text to your Catholic students, they will become increasingly depressed and paranoid, and they will not want to continue with life anymore. Actually, this is true for anyone reading this textbook, but Brinkley goes out of his way to state how evil the Catholics are. If anything bad happened in history, rest assured there was a Catholic behind it.

Mr Ellsworth did not follow my advice, and now he's not nearly as successful as Donald Trump.


Tip #4: Making students memorise obscure facts will not help them on the AP History test.

Come on, let's face it. Your students aren't going to do well on this test through the regurgitation of thoroughly useless facts. No matter how tempting it may be, your students will never ever need to know just who Richard Nicolls was. Not even for a lousy quiz question should such facts be utilized. As far as they're concerned, that can just be a corruption of "Nixon". Just say no to Nicolls.


Tip #5: Do not let your students form study groups.

Bad idea. Letting students form study groups does not make them learn. Instead, they will all take notes on specific sections and only learn about those sections. And they'll complain to each other about the quality of each other's notes. Then there's the desire to take notes on anything and everything, including The Birth of a Nation. It's a way to foment revolution in your students between the study group and the anti-study group, which, while entertaining to watch, is ultimately futile. So don't let study groups form. Unless you like to hear teenagers bitch.


Tip #6: Do not let your study groups make T-shirts.

This will create a sense of unity in your students, and this is clearly something you don't want to foster. Students need to feel isolated and dejected; this will prepare them for the real world. And while the creation of über-nerds may be seem like a worthy experiment, that's something that should be left to the scientists. You should keep well away.


Tip #7: Your primary sources of teaching materials should be board games and lively discussions.

Everybody loves games! Games both lead to comprehension of material and grudges that can be held for years to come! The best games are the ones where you withhold rules, forcing your students into diplomatic warfare and highly charged debates between teams, as an example of "world politics". And discussions will help students think for themselves from different points of view. To help such discussions, pick unpopular positions and defend them to your last breath. Make fun of those who try to use logic and reason, instead giving the floor to those with the loudest comments or the most ridiculous remarks. Be sure to spend time on side-topics, especially where organizing slave rebellions are concerned. Other fine topics include, but are not limited to, whether shooting deer is a good idea, where janitors fall in the chain of command, and the Space Race: a positive boon to technological advances, or a horrible way to spend a decade? (Study groups should pick the latter.)


Tip #8: Don't wear sweaters from The Wall Street Journal.

No, no, no, no, no.


Tip #9: Essays are your friend.

This may seem like contrary logic, but make sure that your students write at least one essay every week. Make sure that it's on an exceedingly dull topic, or one that no one would ever agree with. This will help broaden your students' minds, and it will force them to become more adaptable. Or it'll piss them off and cause them to moan incessantly about how much work you force them to do. And make doubly sure that students do not miss a single essay. Threaten skippers with additional essays and instant zeros. It may seem unfair, but ruling with an iron fist will give you that power rush you need. Remember, a student writing an essay is a student not yelling or pointing out flaws in your statements.


Tip #10: Regale your students with long, unrelated stories about your campus crusades.

Students need role models. Who better than you? Tell them about college, when you bravely fought the Man against such evil forces as the price of cheese. Add lots of figurative language and hyperbole, to make even the most boring protest sound exciting. Speak with bated breath of your requirement to keep moving in front of the Burger King in order to avoid the no-loitering laws! Watch them cringe as you valiantly describe your efforts with the evil register people and their cruel and arbitrary prices for dairy products! Students love these stories, and will frequently quote them back at you, as symbols of their undying affection for you. Or something.



That's all I have for now. Just follow these simple rules and your classes will become a lot more fun and exciting. Or you'll be presiding over an anarchic group of communistic seventeen-year-olds. The choice is yours!


Page Created: 20 October 2002

Back to the Writings Page
Back to the World of Gobeski