Greatest Hits of '07: What's the Oldest Thing You Own?

As we enter the new year, I'm re-posting one more favorite post from 2007. Here's a fun one from August.

My friend Lyza recently posed a great question which I'm now stealing: what's the oldest thing you own?

Looking around my apartment, it's hard to find anything older than the 90's -- and most of the objects I use every day were made in the last few years. I have a chair and a "chairside stereo" from the 60's that I use as an end table. I have some art prints that may date from before 1950, but it's a little hard to tell. Quite likely, the oldest thing in my apartment is the apartment itself -- it was built in 1917. I honestly can't find an object in here that's older.

I think this is an interesting question, because it makes me wonder about my surroundings. Am I living in an unusually modern space, or does everybody pretty much live around new stuff? Have people always had all-new stuff, or is this a recent development? What does it say about my job that all the tools I use for work (computers and such) are all, at most, about three years old?

So here's the question: what's the oldest thing you own? And a related question: what's the oldest thing you actually still use regularly? (The latter answer for me is my father's 1967 Seiko Sportsmatic kinetic watch, which he bought in Vietnam.)

Note: check out the original post for 92 reader comments.

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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