The Importance of AP World History

Mrs. Engdahl’s AP World History class using the collaborative space to work on a group project. (Photo used by permission of Michelle Engdahl)

LRHS offers a selection of classes with a variety of difficulty levels ranging from academic to honors to AP. Students choose classes that they feel will challenge them.

Austin Ferrand is a freshman this year at LRHS. He said that the reason he took AP World History is because “it was the only AP class that was currently available”. AP World exposes students to the format and expectations of more difficult classes.

Taking AP classes isn’t something to consider lightly — there’s no more handholding and the class requires students to know the information they are taught and be able to apply that information.

Mrs. Engdahl has taught AP World at Leesville for seven years. She recognizes that freshmen aren’t used to the level of critical thinking that high school requires and that the transition from middle school to high school is “one of the hardest transitions in a school career”.

“Because they’re freshmen, these are students who have skated through school up to this point… and earn their A’s with very very little effort and the shock of not performing to that level is a hit to the ego,” said Engdahl.

Students who have taken the class confirm that their biggest struggle was with the amount of independent work they were required. Logan Kaelin is a sophomore at LRHS who took AP World History last year as a freshman. He says that the workload was more than what he expected it was going to be. Students had long readings every night and quizzes almost every day.

“[Students] get so wrapped up especially early on with their grades… that they lose sight of the big picture,” said Mrs. Engdahl. She elaborates that in her experience most students become discouraged early on because of their grades, but this also motivates them to spend more time trying to actually understand and apply their knowledge, not just regurgitate it onto a piece of paper.

“I have the sincere belief that you don’t learn unless you screw up. There is a lot of screwing up — it’s trial and error but they learn,” said Engdahl about her students.

“The idea is that students who take AP World are prepared for future AP courses, specifically US and AP Euro because the courses are designed the same way,” said Mrs. Engdahl. Kaelin says he’s glad he took the class because it helped him develop critical thinking and essay writing skills.

The shift from middle school to high school introduces new levels of autonomy and responsibility. AP World is a great class to introduce students to the workings of higher education and prepare them for future AP classes.


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