From the Vault

I was just wandering through the mental_floss blog archives, re-reading the posts that inspired discussion in the comments. In case you weren't with us from the very beginning "“ and judging by our traffic stats, few people were "“ here are ten entries you might have missed.

The original "Cat Power"? March 1, 2006. Our third-ever post, by Mangesh, managed to pick up eleven comments "“ a huge number for that era. Though it took almost five months to get the eleventh.

Weekend Word Wrap: mondegreens. August 4, 2006. David asked readers to comment on their favorite misheard lyrics. Fifty-three people responded.

Contest: Your Favorite Song, But Better. August 14, 2006. Inspired by David's post, Mary called on people to re-engineer lyrics to improve songs. 189 song re-writers lined up to do so.

In the beginning, we needed help naming the book. October 23, 2006. Readers chimed in to help us name the latest mental_floss book.

Contest: Invent the world's stupidest sport! August 1, 2006. This one pretty much explains itself.

Caption this scary found photo, Part II. November 16, 2006. Ransom found some eerie photos and a bunch of people helped provide fictional context.

The best phrase to applaud innovation since "sliced bread." November 10, 2006. The human race has come up with some amazing concepts since serving-size bread. Haven't we?

Show off your smarts! November 1, 2006. Will asked the audience to provide the trivia. The topic was movies, and the results were fascinating.

Weekend word wrap: clichés. December 22, 2006. Another of David's successful Weekend Word Wraps. Readers vented about their most hated most overused expressions. It was cathartic for all involved.

What our stickers say about us. February 16, 2006. Ransom rounds up the quirky bumper stickers he's come across, and readers share their own.

While the newcomers still aren't fully up to speed, you're closer. We'll do this again soon. And if I missed one of your favorite old posts, tell us which one.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

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]

North America: East or West Coast?


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