The 1259-page “A History of the Modern World” by R. R. Palmer is my nemesis. Carrying it into school every day, my back cries out and my eyes burn from last night’s close examination of the book’s nine-point font. Life with Palmer is difficult, as one of our classmates discovered when the textbook set off the metal detectors at the airport presumably by its glossy pages and sheer size alone.
Somehow, in his 20th year of teaching the course, Mr. Kramer makes it all worth the work. It is really a shame that we had to kram so much history into so little time. I have wanted to take AP Modern European History since freshman year, and despite the certain fear surrounding the class’s daunting amount of material (there were only nine brave souls in the block this year), I can quote Machiavelli with some effort, converse about Zola at a superficial level, and know what a charivari is (trust me – you do not want to know).
However, I took some of my AP classes in order to please the college admissions offices. For example, despite already scoring well on the AP Art History Exam, my college counselor encouraged me to take the piloted Online School for Girls (OSG) curriculum, because I plan on being an art history major. I regret taking that, as the workload increased in tandem with the number of assemblies, forcing me to quickly take proctored exams. It was not OSG or the class. I should not have taken five APs this year, because I did not have the time I thought I did.
Hockaday’s teachers make every late night (and believe me I have a lot of those) better by teaching with passion, innovation and dedication every day. Whether it be Ms. Lindsay’s AP Environmental Science class testing restaurants’ water for contamination (we found several restaurants had dangerous levels of fecal coliform) to la Señora Suárez blasting Pablo Alboran as the class frantically deciphers the lyrics, Hockaday’s AP curriculums do not just teach to the test but provide real world applications while still having a bit of fun. Throughout the course of the year, we have used our Source Documents from European History reading as a weapon, vainly hoping that we could escape our final paper over Emile Zola’s Germinal.
The only downside to the AP curriculum is that I was required to take exams for all of the AP classes I have enjoyed, per Hockaday policy. Despite my college only accepting six AP credits and it does not even acknowledge an AP Environmental Science credit, I sat for exams for every class this year. However, I was not disgruntled by almost 20 hours of tests. A sort of peace came over me during each. I did not have any stress about submitting them to college to decide my academic path and my teachers had given me every tool in order to ensure my success.
I cannot quantify what I have learned from Hockaday’s AP courses by one score on a standardized test on one day. Hockaday’s teachers have given us the greatest gift from Hockaday – learning that is beyond any curriculum College Board dreams up.