AP courses and exams are being revised to emphasize inquiry and depth at the expense of memorization.Oh, goody.
Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and Instruction – Senior Vice President, AP and Instruction - April 9, 2014
To be fair, AP history courses have always covered too much material. At least, that's what Ed always said. (For passersby, Ed is a historian of France & modern Europe.) Back in the day, Ed would occasionally be asked to work on AP Euro. He always said 'no' because he thought the courses crammed too much content into too little time.
He completely changed his mind once he started dealing with public schools as a parent.
He used to tell friends: 'I thought AP courses weren't great-- now I want Chris taking as many AP's as he possibly can.'
So, as much as it pains me to concede the point in our contemporary context, in theory it would be a good idea to thin out the content a bit.
Unfortunately, when thinning out content means "emphasizing inquiry and depth at the expense of memorization," you're not talking about a sensible edit.
You're talking about 12 months of DBQ-mongering at the expense of Roger Williams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Dorothea Dix, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Clay, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jacob Riis, Jane Addams, Theodore Roosevelt, Lost Generation authors (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Lewis), and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Yes, I do realize that current AP courses engage in quite a bit of DBQ-mongering.)
Real historians don't write DBQs.
Also, you can't do proper inquiry & depth without knowledge.
Knowledge stored in memory, not on Google.
I've told you all (right? many times?) that Ed is one of the inventors of the DBQ.
He doesn't like me to say that because he's not positive he and his colleagues really did invent the DBQ. Somebody else might have invented it first.*
But it's safe to say Ed and his group were the re-inventors of DBQs, and here's the thing: they invented the DBQ as a testof memorized knowledge.
Memorized, as in committed to memory and recalled later, on a test.
He and his group were writing new, rigorous, multiple-choice history tests for California. They designed the DBQ as a final and minor element of the exam, which would give advanced students a chance to show that they were beginning to be able to apply the historical knowledge they had memorized.
And note: only advanced students were expected to be able to write a DBQ successfully. All students could pass the test on the basis of knowledge stored in long-term memory. The DBQs were a bonus, so to speak.
A few years ago, in response to some folderol going on around here, in my district, I actually interviewed Ed about his work on the DBQ. Have got to dig out those notes and finally write them up.
AND SEE: Paul Horton on the new CC standards and DBQs
*I've come across journal articles on "controlled composition," which I have yet to read, and I suspect Ed's right. Other people probably thought of DBQs before Ed and his group did, although I've never seen any indication that other people came up with the specific concept Ed's team did.