Secret Scandinavian Singers: Exposed!

They are among us, sneaking undetected among singers who sound as American as can be: Scandinavians! It's happened several times in the past few months -- I've started listening to a certain artist, and only weeks later, much to my surprise, will I discover that they're actually Swedes or Danes or Finns. It's a testament to their language skills, certainly -- most grow up speaking a few different languages and learn English in school. I spent a week in Denmark a few years ago, and one evening hung out with a twentysomething kid who for the longest time I thought was an American frat boy studying abroad -- until he told me he was from Greenland, of all places. I felt so mono-lingual!

Check out Swede Kristian Matsson, AKA the Tallest Man on Earth, who could not sound more American. Some are even calling him the second coming of Bob Dylan:

Or Jose Gonzales, also a Swede.

Or there Sondre Lerche, from Norway:

Sondre Lerche - To Be Surprised (Live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are singers like Jonsi, from Iceland's Sigur Ros. Now THIS is how you let people know you're Scandinavian!

Jónsi - Go Do from Jónsi on Vimeo.

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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