Piece by Piece: comfort in AP European History


Brian Higgins

Staff reporter Madison Saviano explores hot topics and issues that students face in her weekly column Piece by Piece.

Madison Saviano , Staff Reporter

Apparently the school has history courses specific to continents other than Europe. I was not aware of that offer, and still have very little knowledge on the topic, but nonetheless I would like to take this space to praise the one continent-specific course I am familiar with.

I love history, obscure YouTube videos on “how one would finesse a good seat in the Coliseum” and all its other minute wonders. Unfortunately, these are the things that have always been glazed over in school history class. 

AP European history takes its time. Kristen Mayfield, the only teacher of the course at this school, pores over the history in such loving detail that none of the fun tidbits which liven history are missed. 

I have the class 1A, and after that I have three more AP classes to follow. It’s formidable, but the lightness of Euro softens the day considerably. 

If you already enjoy history, I highly encourage you to take this class. But even if past history classes have turned you off of the subject as a whole, consider this: Euro delves into people.

All history is is a mosaic of stories; all of history itself can even be described as a story. The thing lacking from most history classes is the people component. What we’ve learned in school has basically been a dehydrated timeline. But Mayfield, she animates it again. 

Learning about the Napoleonic Era inspired me to adopt a new celebrity crush: you guessed it, the man himself. I had a ball learning about Napoleon’s campaigns and policies and character, so much so that I bought a whole biography on the man. 

What’s more, the class encourages a flare of theatrics and our own interpretations of the historical figures we learn about. Last nine weeks, our class had a salon with each student embodying an enlightened 18th century philosophe. At the end of the year, we also have a “dinner party” where we act as any historical figure we choose. And we are encouraged to dress up. 

This class is a lot of fun, and as students are in the process of completing their course selection cards I wanted to share this little bit of glory that the school offers.