Double history? Bring it on

October 17, 2012 — by Nick Chow

I remember when the school year started and all of my friends were comparing schedules. 

I remember when the school year started and all of my friends were comparing schedules. I handed my schedule to a friend, and after a few moments of silent reading, he gave me a puzzled look.

“Wait, Nick. You’re taking AP Euro? And APUSH?”

Then came my well-rehearsed response, where I replied that I was indeed taking both courses at once. Inevitably, my friend gave me a look—almost a look of pity—and asked almost apologetically:

“You’re doubling up on history? Good luck.”

What really intrigues me, though, is that the people who are doubling science or math classes don’t get this reaction. Of course, it’s a gross exaggeration to say that all Saratoga students double in these courses, but many more double science, as opposed to doubling history or English.

Frankly, most students I know hate history. They don’t understand why someone would take one AP history course with copious amounts of note-taking, let alone two of them. And my answer: I actually enjoy both APUSH and AP Euro.

How is this possible? I never said I necessarily enjoyed the projects that come with AP Euro—OK, maybe I enjoyed those simulations—nor the long hours of monotonous notes that come with APUSH. I enjoy the classes simply because I get to learn more about history.

To the people who say, “Whoopee, history is useless. All it is is learning about a bunch of dead guys. I’ll never use it,” I say, “Wrong. You also learn about a bunch of dead girls—Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra or Marie Curie anyone?”

All jokes aside, though, history has many practical applications in life. History allows us to answer how we came to be, much like how science does. History allows us to learn about previous successes and failures, so we can replicate the successes and try to avoid the failures.

Of course, there will be those of you out there who might ask, “OK, then how does the capture and execution of Montezuma in 1520 relate to my life?”

My answer is that it doesn’t. Not all history is directly relatable to life, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t study it. For me, I study a lot of history tidbits just because I find the topics interesting. Even though the type of spear that Alexander the Great used or the composition of George Washington’s teeth doesn’t influence my life, I study these facts and others because I find them interesting.

As a general rule, I think it is fine to take two history courses, or science courses, or English courses or any subjects for that matter. Sure, it’s going to take a lot more effort, but if you really love the subject, you’ll be more than happy to spend more time learning.

Of course, I ask myself why I was crazy enough to take two history courses at the same time. This happens mostly on Saturday nights when I have about a week’s worth of APUSH notes due on Monday and realize that I still haven’t done my AP Euro reading, in addition to my other homework.

But then I open the book and start reading about some really interesting but obscure fact about the Protestant Reformation, and I realize that all those hours toiling over notes and staring at the text were worth it.

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