Opinions

AP Human Geography: new course offers a new perspective

This is the first year AP Human Geography has been taught at the Mount. The course is offered to juniors and seniors (for juniors as a fulfillment of their Social Studies credit requirements, and to seniors as an elective). I decided to take the class because the subject matter interested me. Learning about other cultures, how they spread, and the influence of those cultures were some of the topics that really made me want to take the course.

I have enjoyed the class so far. It took me a little bit to get used to the pace and the expectations as an AP student, but since I got it, it has been an enjoyable class.

I was able to sit down with our teacher Mr. Campbell and ask him some questions about AP Human Geography. Here’s what he had to say:

How would you summarize this course?

“It’s a contemporary look at world issues through the lens of geography.”

What is the meaning/importance of this course?

“I think that we, as a country, are ignorant to ideas of geography, and this course will hopefully open the eyes of those gentlemen that are taking the course. Maybe it will get them interested in taking history or geography courses in college.”

How was this course introduced to the administration?

“It’s a new AP course; it’s only about ten years old. So probably for the last four or five years, Mr. Folmer and I have been trying to incorporate it here.”

How has it been teaching a class that has never been taught here before? Any growing pains?

“Fun, interesting… Other than students not doing homework? Yeah, that’s about it about it. I don’t think there are any growing pains curriculum-wise. I have two good classes, and that has been positive thus far.”

What has your experience been teaching this class?

“Positive thus far. The subject matter lends itself to current events in the world, and that is something which I was in favor of incorporating into any class.”

Do you see this course being very successful at MSJ? Why or why not?

“I see it being very successful in the fact that students like to talk about contemporary issues, and I think it lends itself to doing that.”

After I talked with Mr. Campbell, I talked to some of my classmates about their opinions of this class. Some were reluctant, fearing Mr. Campbell’s wrath, but many were willing to share with me. Many gave extremely positive reviews, some found some faults with the course, and one was pretty critical of the course (and wanted to stay anonymous).

When asked his opinion on the experience so far in the class, junior Isaac Scharbach replied, “The class has been fun, fast-pace, and entertaining.” However, another students said, “I have learned some themes, but overall have been disappointed.”

One of the most loved aspects of the course is the discussions. I too, love these discussions. Mr. Campbell brings an upbeat attitude to them that makes them fun and challenges you to make educated opinions and to defend them using real facts, not biases.

One student, though, has a different opinion. He said, “There are times in class in which students discuss nothing but news. I enjoy the occasional political discussion, but when these occur daily with no mention of the chapter, I come to question how much there truly is in the course and if the teacher is simply trying to kill time.” This just shows you how two different students can sit in the same class and have two totally different opinions.

My favorite discussions so far this year have been about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. We started the chapter when the crisis was on everyone’s mind and was the big story on every major news network. This allowed us to have discussions on our opinions of refugees, terrorism, and biases on Muslim people.

Another part of the course that students mentioned often was the questions on the tests. AP Human Geography has a lot of examples in the textbook. Many students commented that in order to get a good grade on a test, it would require them to memorize examples that might have been mentioned in a few sentences of the whole chapter. I agree with this point totally. That would be the one thing that I would change in this course.

When asked if he finds the course difficult, Junior, Gannon Conrad wrote, “Sometimes, attention to detail and examples are difficult.” Junior Will Hartman replied to the same question with, “The tests are hard, but the content isn’t to difficult to grasp.” Junior, Jay Dipietro also shared his opinion, saying, “It has been slightly difficult, but that is because there are many examples to memorize and use.” I feel the same about the class. At first I struggled a little, but after the first week or two, then I understood how to succeed in this class.

My final question asked my classmates if they would recommend the class to other students. Junior Johnathan Harrison answered, “Yes I would, because you will learn a lot of things that help you understand things that go on in life. It really helps you understand people and things.” Gannon also shared, “Yes. It’s beneficial for anyone to expand their mental horizons about the world around us.”

This class overall is an intensive study on multiple parts of humanity and culture through the eyes of geography. It is a well-taught, challenging, fun, and interesting class that makes you really think. Citing sources, defending answers, and discussions are all part of this class, and there are very few things I would change about it. It is that good of a class.

I want to thank everyone who let me interview them: Mr. Campbell, Gannon Conrad, Jay Dipietro, Johnathan Harrison, Will Hartman, Matt Hlavin, Isaac Scharbach, and the student who wishes to stay anonymous.

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