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Discovering the World through AP Art History

Now that our school has received AP (Advanced Placement) course certification, many SJHS teachers have been signing up for Professional Development courses to help prepare them to teach these classes. Last summer, English teachers Ms. Turman and Ms. Maldonado attended the AP Literature and Composition Summer Institute.  This year, Ms. Daniels, also a member of the English department, decided to participate in an AP training as well.

Having been interested in art and art history since she was in college, Ms. Daniels chose the AP Art History training program, in the hopes that we will eventually be able to add an elective in this subject here at SJHS. The course brought potential future AP Art History teachers on a whirlwind tour through 250 different works of art that students of the course need to be able to discuss in writing for the exam. Attendees also had the chance to learn from experienced teachers regarding how best to structure the course depending on various constraints such as length of the period, age of students, size of class and more.

Great Hall of the Bulls, Lascaux caves, 15,000–13,000 B.C.E

In addition to providing an integrated humanities skill set, courses such as AP Art History help students understand the global world of art, gain a better awareness of how cultures and societies are both distinct from and interwoven with one another, and ask meaningful questions about who we are now as people, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. In an increasingly global society, and based out of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, these skills cannot be anything by an advantage to students pursuing any number of career paths.

Anthropomorphic stele, 4th millennium B.C.E.,

The possibility of teaching a course such as this one to students in NYC offers an additional benefit given the plethora of museums and galleries that surround us. While many younger students do not realize that these places are available to them, Ms. Daniels hopes that this course could open students’ horizons to explore NYC further and take part in the cultural and artistic wealth the city has to offer. For the time being, students are invited each year to several different Art and Art History related events such as gallery walks, museum tours, studio visits and more. This year, after practicing analyzing works of art at school, our Summer Readiness students were able to visit an exhibit hosted at the Frick Collection, and Ms. Daniels was impressed by how much they noticed and the kinds of questions they came up with.

Check out a small gallery of some the the wide variety of works that students encounter in AP Art History below: