APUSH: a necessary evil

There are a lot of misconceptions about AHS’s hardest class… is it right for you?


Jonathan Watt, Reporter

You wake up in a drowsy, panicked state. It’s Friday morning, you’re at the kitchen table with papers strewn about haphazardly, and your computer is still playing the same playlist of chapter reviews that you had been frantically combing the night before in place of the assigned American Pageant chapters that you never read. This solemn scene is one that any former APUSH student will shudder to remember — and one that any rising sophomore will dread as the school year starts.

So, after hearing this, you might be skeptical when I get to my real point: you should absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, take APUSH. Listen, hear me out: I found it to be the most rewarding, interesting, and useful class I’ve taken in high school so far. It served as the template for what I believe to be the most efficient form of teaching, based on back-and-forth discussion with deep questions and critical thinking. Every day, I’d walk into that class excited.

But how? Under all that pressure and all that work, how on Earth was I even still alive? What does that say about me? That I’m way, way too interested in history and you should be too? Well, yes and no. Even if you’re not interested in history, you’ll find the class a wonderful addition to your day. APUSH has plenty of appeal for those who are simply in the class for the credit.

First of all, the textbook (yes, the brick with the creepy-looking doll on it that you see sophomores lugging around) is hilarious. Even in the most boring units, the curriculum is pretty self-aware; in time periods where nothing really happens, the book’s author will sometimes resort to explaining the different insults used in the presidential election.  He uses words like “sexy” to describe things like Ulysses S. Grant’s corrupt administration, and his colorful language was easily one of the most entertaining things about the book and the class as a whole.

Secondly, Mr. Mooney. What isn’t there to love? In a class like APUSH, you’re gonna need a teacher like Mr. Mooney: engaged, respectful, but also sarcastic and fun. His style of teaching is completely discussion-based; you come into every class waiting for him to throw out a deep question, and by the end of the period, you’ll find that even though you didn’t take a single page of notes, you’re ready for the test.

Third and last, the student resources. So many students will tell you that they would have never gotten through the class if it wasn’t for the APUSH gods themselves, Adam Norris and Daniel Jocz. These two youtube channels give detailed explanations of the most complicated laws ever passed and the most confusing tariffs ever legislated. They are your friends, your mentors, and as you’ll come to realize, the greatest ally in your APUSH journey.

By the end of the year, you’ll ALMOST find yourself missing those late nights filled with notes and whatever stimulant you chose to get yourself through the year. Even in what was arguably the worst year of high school, I found that APUSH was a shining star among my classes. I was challenged, I was intrigued, and oftentimes I experienced the “flow”; the effect of being so caught up in something that you lose yourself. Even Spence himself will attest; in times when he needs inspiration, you’ll often find him sitting in on APUSH classes to remind himself of the great minds that we have at AHS.

In conclusion, yes. It is as hard as you have been told. Yes, you’ll go through some rough patches and, yes, I left with some gray hairs on my 16-year-old sophomore head. But you WILL get the help you need, and you’ll even have fun doing it. Without this class, I never would have found my love for politics and history. You need to broaden your perspective a little and cast a broad net when trying out classes in high school. High school is your last chance to try things out for free – live a little and take some APUSH.