Weekly IQ-tip goes Green

There are a series of fascinating articles in this month's issue of dwell magazine about sustainable homes (Green Goes Mainstream). I'm not sure if it's because my wife is an architect, or because I'm so dedicated to the green movement, but the idea of sustainable living, especially "green building," has long captivated my interest.

From building with sustainable materials such as cork (like the arm of a starfish, the bark grows back!), to installing solar panels"¦ from simple efforts like well-placed trees for natural shade, to more complicated ideas like turning your roof into an aromatic garden that absorbs runoff and keeps the house cooler—there are dozens of ways to build a new home with the environment in mind.

But what I hadn't considered is the philosophy of architects like Matthew Trzebiatowski, who, in an interview in dwell, suggest the following (which we at mental_floss, another magazine with a lowercase title, will hijack for our weekly IQ-tip):

Work with the existing infrastructure. Don't keep going outward and gobbling up more real estate—go into the city, go into the texture that's already there. If you can, go in and rehab an existing residence"¦ We feel the most important thing we did was to go into a place like Sunnyslope [an edgy neighborhood in Phoenix, AZ] that had not only economic depression, but also some social questionability. It needed a second life. A residence like [ours] can turn that around. We can recycle a neighborhood as well as materials.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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