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AP United States History

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. -- Howard Zinn

The purpose of this year-long course in United States History is two-fold: first, it is to prepare you for the rigors of academic work at the college level by ensuring that you receive college-level credit for your work in this course. As much as possible, you will be treated like college students and you will be held to the same standard that advanced college students are held to.

The second goal of the course is to infuse you with the knowledge of over 500 years of American history. This will be no simple task given our time constraints, but it is one that we will attack vigorously. Many people have a hard time articulating why the study of history is so important. Howard Zinn, for one, has stated his case for the study of history quite eloquently above. What you will be expected to learn in this class is not just a select group of facts; instead, you will be asked to develop your own personal interpretation of American history. What does the history of this country mean to you? Is it a history filled with heroic deeds performed by heroic people? Is it a history of discrimination highlighted by the struggle of ordinary people to overcome that discrimination? Is it a history of wars and other conflicts fought to protect the “American Dream” from foreign tyranny? Or is it a history of social struggle against the tyranny of the majority?

As you complete the requirements for this course, you’ll also be expected to catalogue the material that has been given to you (and the material that you produce) and comment on that material’s contribution to your view of American history. This course is, ultimately, about you -- how you internalize history, how you make sense of information, how you use your knowledge of historical events to come to an understanding of how history shapes our lives today, and how history can be used to make our lives better.

Course Description from The College Board